MİDDLE EAST

UN thanks Turkey, IHH over East Aleppo evacuation

'Turkish NGOs have been crucial to this operation, including the IHH, which has done a great job,' UN officer Jan Egeland says, after tens of thousands were evacuated from moderate opposition controlled part of Syrian province

Editor / Internet Yeni Şafak
Jan Egeland, Senior Special Advisor to the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, has thanked Turkey and IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation that played a vital role in the evacuation of the civilians and the moderate opposition fighters from the moderate opposition-controlled part of the northern Syrian province of Aleppo.

"Around 35,000 were in the one that was ours this morning, and includes everyone that we have estimated could be leaving. It could end up closer to 40,000 but it remains to be seen. We also need to collate it with the numbers coming to Idlib and western Aleppo," explained Egeland, in his speech in the Geneva province of Switzerland.

"And Turkish NGOs have been crucial to this operation, including the IHH, which has done a great job," he added.



UN's Egeland also touched upon the arrival of seven-year-old Aleppan activist Bana Alabed and her family who were evacuated on Monday from northern Syria's war-torn city of Aleppo.

"We all have the duty to make sure that she goes back, and not when she is grown up, but as soon as possible to Aleppo. But to do so, we have to make sure that this winter goes by without many people suffering and that we can also take care of not only the humanitarian but also the reconstruction aspect," he said, expressing the situation from the viewpoint of both the evacuees and the UN.

The seven-year-old girl captured the world's attention with her Twitter posts from Aleppo which revealed the sufferings of Aleppo residents.



'There are 15 besieged areas'

"The bottom line remains now, humanitarian access, humanitarian aid to those who have been in need, not only in Aleppo but elsewhere as well, the cessation of hostilities - otherwise between now and when we finally will be getting the political process moving forward, many others may be killed - and the momentum of the political process. That's the plan and that's where we are at the moment," he continued to explain.



Egeland reminded that there are 15 besieged areas beyond east Aleppo. "And it hasn't gotten better in these areas because all eyes were on Aleppo. Only one convoy so far in December to Khan Elshih, a Palestinian village south-west of Damascus with 6,000 people, finally got relief there, but all the other places have not yet gotten relief in December. November was also a very bad month," he informed about the circumstances.

Russia and the Iran-backed Assad regime intensified its attacks on the Syrian province of Aleppo, located 50 kilometers from Turkey, on November 15, although it had been launching attacks on the city for weeks.



The heavy bombardment was followed by the evacuation of thousands of people from the opposition-controlled part of the city, as a result of international efforts.

Turkey became one of the largest providers of relief for the victims of war, as the country has been hosting more than 3 million asylum seekers and refugees, predominantly people who fled the violence in war-torn Syria, along with the humanitarian aid it sent in Syria.

Previously, Turkey introduced a plan to grant citizenship status to Syrian refugees it is currently hosting, an initiative also welcomed by the United Nations.

In the last six years, Turkey has spent more than $25 billion on refugees, while the total international aid provided was only worth $512 million.

Captured by the opponents in 2012, Aleppo witnessed a fierce battlefield after Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah came to the city with armed militias in order to assist the regime. Following Russia's involvement in 2015, the war began turning against the opposition.

Humanitarian aid shipments were not allowed to be sent into East Aleppo whose connection to other opposition-held regions had been cut off since August of 2015.

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