UN invited to monitor, assist evacuation in eastern Aleppo
United Nations, Dec 16 (IANS) The United Nations on Friday acknowledged that the world body has been invited to monitor and assist in the evacuation that will take place from the remaining enclave in Aleppo in northern Syria that is controlled by armed opposition groups.
“It is a three-pronged evacuation: a medical evacuation of wounded and sick, as well as an evacuation of vulnerable civilians and of fighters,” Xinhua news agency quoted UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric as saying at a daily news briefing here.
Jan Egeland, the UN special adviser on Syria, clarified that this is not an agreement mediated by the United Nations; rather, it is an agreement that has been made in direct talks between the parties to this war, which the United Nations was only invited this morning to monitor.
“That monitoring is happening in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross, who are now present with representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO),” Dujarric said.
“The United Nations stands ready with a number of teams that are experts on protection, humanitarian law and humanitarian principles.”
UN monitors will accompany those who are being evacuated, not only from east Aleppo but all the way to Idlib, and they also stand ready to care for them all the way into Turkey, if they chose that to be their final destination, he said.
Egeland said that the most painful experience during recent weeks and months is that UN workers have not been able to be present when the Syrian civilians have needed them the most. He warned that 700,000 people remained in 15 besieged areas beyond east Aleppo.
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the UN are helping enable the evacuation of the sick and wounded as well as other vulnerable people from eastern Aleppo.
World Health Organisation teams were at the Ramouseh crossing on the south-western edge of the city to monitor the evacuation of sick and wounded people by ambulance. As of 2.40 p.m. local time, the first group of 26 wounded people was medically evacuated to western rural Aleppo, according to ICRC.
This was shortly followed by 20 buses and 13 ambulances crossing the frontlines, with people from east Aleppo who were heading westwards, Dujarric said. “Further evacuations are ongoing.”