Turkey | Syria: Flash Update - Developments in Eastern Aleppo (as of 27 October 2016) [EN/AR]

Situation Report
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  • The three-day pause in hostilities ended with no confirmed reports of civilians or fighters leaving eastern Aleppo

  • Hostilities resumed on 22 October.

  • United Nations’ plan to medically evacuate the sick and wounded was unsuccessful.

Situation Overview

During the reporting period, the Russian and Syrian Governments announced on 17 October that a three-day pause in hostilities was to come into effect from 20 – 22 October. During this pause, a unilateral stop to hostilities by the Government of Syria forces would come into effect. According to the Russian Government, the pause would serve as an opportunity for fighters, civilians and patients requiring medical evacuation to leave eastern Aleppo through eight exit points throughout the city.

Indeed, the period from 18 – 22 October witnessed a significant decrease in hostilities in the east of the city. However, on the first day of the pause in hostilities there were reports of shelling and sniper fire in the vicinity of one of the exit corridors from east to west Aleppo.
Shelling on the neighbourhoods of western Aleppo continued during the pause in hostilities. Five people were reportedly killed and 41 injured, including three representatives of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Aleppo.

Civilians in eastern Aleppo city regained a sense of normalcy during the three days of the pause in hostilities. Reports from partners in the city indicated that civilians were able to go on the streets and markets where very small amounts of basic commodities are still available, without having to worry about airstrikes or shelling.

The United Nations developed a plan to evacuate the critically-injured and sick people from eastern Aleppo, where medical resources are overstretched and some specialized medical services are unavailable. As such, negotiations were carried out with all parties to the conflict to ensure a safe way out for such cases and plans were put in place. However, in spite of the UN’s readiness the process was hindered by delays in receiving the list of patients to be medically evacuated from medical authorities in eastern Aleppo and the Government of Syria’s objection to allowing medical and other relief supplies into the eastern side of the city. In his statement to the UN Security Council on 24 October, the Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien, expressed his frustration and sadness that the medical evacuations did not go through.

Within minutes of the end of the pause in hostilities, military operations and violence resumed throughout the city. On 22 October, shelling was reported on Al-Mashhad, Sallah Eddine and Al-Sukkari neighbourhoods which resulted in the wounding of seven people. Airstrikes on Al-Mashhad, Sallah Eddine, Al-Sukkari and Al-Marjeh neighbourhoods were reported the following day and including the death of five people.

The resumption of hostilities in the city came amidst reports of a large-scale offensives by the warring parties. On 22 October, the Conquest of Aleppo operations room issued a statement urging civilians residing in GoS-held Aleppo city to avoid GoS locations and headquarters. Concurrently, media reports indicate that GoS forces are preparing to launch a large-scale offensive on NSAG-held areas. A number of reports indicate different leaflets have been dropped over the city, one of which stated “This is your last hope….Save yourselves. If you do not leave these areas urgently, you will be annihilated.”

In the absence of humanitarian access, the availability of medication in eastern Aleppo remains a major concern. The Health Cluster recently expressed worries that anesthetic medication stocks are running low. According to the Cluster’s estimate, should hostilities resume at the intensity witnessed prior to the pause in hostilities, the remaining stocks would be sufficient for 800 – 900 procedures, which would cover 15 – 18 days.

The food situation remains largely unchanged. The Food Security and Livelihood (FSL) Cluster reported that as of 21 October, some 10,000 complete food rations and approximately 1,800 incomplete rations are stored in eastern Aleppo city, with cluster partners. Additionally, An FSL partner has 100 metric tons of bulgur stored in the city. The distribution of these remaining rations is ongoing. Partners split rations in half and are prioritizing elderly, female, children and disable-headed households in their distribution.

Should distributions go as planned, it is expected that the remaining rations will run out around the middle of November. Unavailable food items on the market include chicken meat, eggs, canned food, vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes); and cooking gas.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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