Washington, D.C. – Humanitarian efforts to save lives in Aleppo need far more than a tiny eight-hour gap in bombing raids.
The American Relief Coalition for Syria (ARCS), a group of 13 American humanitarian organizations that aid over 5.7 million Syrians in the country and worldwide, is calling for an immediate, sustained ceasefire for meaningful humanitarian access to eastern Aleppo. Any ceasefire should not force civilians out, and allow neutral observers, such as the United Nations, doctors and humanitarian workers, to enter the city.
The announced ceasefire would halt Russian and Syrian military activity from 8:00-16:00 GMT on Thursday, October 20 to purportedly allow for medical and humanitarian relief, access to medical staff, and safe exit routes for civilians and militants. That is simply not enough time to transport the needed resources in and out of eastern Aleppo. Furthermore, previous patterns of similar ceasefires were recipes for forced evacuation and ethnic cleansing.
Rami Bitar from Swasia, a U.S. based non-profit organization providing humanitarian assistance and aid to the Syrian people, and an ARCS member organization responded, “We trusted ceasefires before and were met with cruel brutality. With the US-Russia brokered ceasefire last month, we were hopeful for a break of what felt like hell. My friends who worked with different humanitarian organizations in Aleppo were among those killed in the aid convoy attack. As Syrians, we lost trust in these promises and agreements made by politicians.”
Lena Arkawi, spokesperson for ARCS stated, “An eight-hour ceasefire will not provide enough time to deliver the urgent relief needed in eastern Aleppo. The past three weeks alone, airstrikes have destroyed numerous hospitals and schools, hundreds of people have been killed and thousands injured. Innocent civilians are still starving from lack of access to food, water and aid. Even in the face of hellish conditions, the people of Aleppo are resilient and want to continue to live in their homes.”
The spokespeople are available for interviews.