Aid still can't reach Syrian civilians

  • 13/01/2017
Civilians gather water in Damascus, Syria (Reuters)
Civilians gather water in Damascus, Syria (Reuters)

The ceasefire in the Syria war is holding for the most part but humanitarian aid is still not getting through to besieged areas where food is running out, the UN says.

But envoy Staffan de Mistura voiced concern that 23 buses and Syrian drivers used in recent evacuations were being stopped from leaving the villages of Foua and Kefraya by armed groups. He called for them to be allowed to leave.

"These are not UN officials, these are Syrian buses with Syrian drivers. And that is not to happen because this complicates then tit-for-tat approaches," Mr de Mistura said.

The ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey last month was largely holding, he said. But fighting was still going on in two villages in the Wadi Barada valley, the site of water pumping facilities serving more than 5 million people in Damascus. Five five other villages in the area had reached an agreement with the government, he said.

Water engineers are ready to repair the damaged facility, security permitting, he said, although two attempts to do so had been blocked by armed groups.

"Military activities in that area means also the potential of further damaging water pumps and water supplies," he said.