UN Security Council to vote on humanitarian aid to Aleppo
BEIRUT — The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote on a resolution demanding immediate and unconditional access for the United Nations and its partners to besieged parts of Aleppo and throughout Syria to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid.
The council scheduled consultations Sunday morning on the French-drafted resolution followed by an open meeting where members are expected to vote.
The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, calls on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to immediately redeploy U.N. humanitarian staff already on the ground to carry out “neutral monitoring” and “direct observation and to report on evacuations.”
It stresses that evacuations of civilians “must be voluntary and to destinations of their choice”
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Friday he would examine the draft, but was skeptical that monitors could be deployed quickly.
Temperatures in Aleppo hovered around freezing Saturday night, as thousands of civilians waited to be evacuated from the opposition’s last foothold in the city.
“There’s no rain or snow, thank God. People are packing their things,” said Wissam Zarqa, an English teacher awaiting evacuation.
The International Committee of the Red Cross in Damascus said there was no time-table to resume evacuations. It said it was waiting for assurances from all parties for the safety of the convoys and a continued cease-fire.
“Our team, with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, is on standby,” said spokeswoman Ingy Sedky. “We hope to resume evacuations as soon as possible.”
Pro-government forces halted the evacuations suddenly Friday, after several thousand civilians had already left, throwing a deal for the city brokered by Russia and Turkey into disarray.
The deal reached last week came after a three-week-long government offensive laid waste to the opposition’s former enclave in Aleppo. It included the promise to evacuate thousands of fighters and civilians who have refused to return to government authority.
The government’s side demanded simultaneous evacuations from the nearby villages of Foua and Kefraya, which are besieged by rebels.
Rebels and the government agreed to allow “humanitarian cases” to leave the two villages Saturday, but as of Sunday the new deal was still delayed.
The ICRC said it was not involved in any Foua and Kefraya evacuations, but was prepared to facilitate them if asked by all parties.
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