After a supposed ceasefire broke down almost immediately, the long-besieged and almost completely destroyed neighborhoods of East Aleppo were once again subjected to heavy shelling yesterday and today, increasing the misery of residents to an almost unthinkable level.
Negotiations are said to be underway regarding the evacuation of people from the besieged enclaves. There is a great deal of urgency. Living conditions in East Aleppo are deplorable. Supplies of essential goods and services are running out or have already run out. A huge percentage of the buildings are damaged or destroyed. Men, women, and children are sleeping in the streets, in cars, and in mosques, without food, water, heaters, or electricity.
Whatever hope remained is rapidly dissipating. People are terrified, almost certain that their own deaths are near. Messages in which they say goodbye to their love ones are proliferating.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is still in touch with many doctors inside the besieged area. Like the rest of the population, “doctors are terrified and losing hope,” says Teresa Sancristoval, Head of MSF’s Emergency Unit for Aleppo. “They are afraid of the retaliations they can suffer. For the last two days, our exchanges have been more about goodbye messages and requests for evacuation than anything else. They feel abandoned to their fate and with no way out.”
MSF is committed to assisting civilians in Aleppo (and in Syria in general, on all sides of the frontlines) if we can access to them, which thus far has been extremely difficult. If the warring parties would permit it, as they are obligated to do by International Humanitarian Law and the Laws of War, supplies could be sent in or people could either reach medical facilities or medical teams could reach them. Until this happens, however, until a true ceasefire is reached or a deal is stuck to allow people to evacuate safely, the horrific suffering being endured by people in East Aleppo will only continue.