October 18, 2016 / 10:44 AM / in 9 months

No U.N. aid for Aleppo until Russia's ceasefire plan guarantees safety also

2 Min Read

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Tuesday that Russia's plan for a ceasefire will not mean any supplies get into besieged eastern Aleppo because Russia, Syria and other groups fighting in the city have not yet given guarantees of safety for aid workers.

Syria's government would also need to overturn its decision last week to refuse to allow aid into the eastern part of the city, where the U.N. estimates 275,000 civilians and 8,000 rebel fighters are trapped.

"We need assurances from all parties to the conflict, not just a unilateral announcement that this will happen. We need everybody to give us those assurances before it is immediately useful for us to do anything meaningful," U.N. spokesman Jens Laerke said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was still unclear how much time would be needed to get security guarantees from all sides, including from rebel fighters.

Russia said on Monday that Russian and Syrian forces would pause their attacks on Aleppo for eight hours on Thursday to allow civilians and rebels to leave the city, and on Tuesday they halted all air strikes, two days ahead of time.

Laerke told a regular briefing in Geneva that Russia had told the U.N. the ceasefire was for eight hours on more than one consecutive day.

"That was my understanding, that it was supposed to be a beginning," he said.

The Russia-Syria bombing campaign has destroyed most health facilities in the besieged city, where 406 people were killed and 1,384 wounded between Sept. 23 and Oct 8., according to U.N. data based on reports from medical facilities.

Robert Mardini, the ICRC's regional director for the Near and Middle East said: "Our estimate today is that there are close to 50 groups inside eastern Aleppo, it is not just about the Russian and Syrian government," he told Reuters.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Louise Ireland

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