2016-12-14 10:16:00

Aid agencies call for safe passage out for Aleppo civilians

(Vatican Radio) A planned evacuation of rebel-held areas of eastern Aleppo has been delayed. Opposition officials said they had expected a first group of wounded people to leave on Tuesday evening.

The evacuations which were brokered by Turkey and Russia, had been due to start a 5 am local time.

On Tuesday the United Nations said Syrian pro-government forces had been shooting civilians in Aleppo "on the spot", describing the situation there as a "complete meltdown of humanity".

Forces loyal to Syria's leader Bashar al Assad, backed by Russia, have recaptured large areas on the besieged city of Aleppo in recent days.

It's understood thousands of civilians are trapped inside buildings in the last remaining rebel-held areas .

Despite the announcement of a ceasefire witnesses heard explosions ring out on Wednesday morning.

Middle East Manager of Catholic relief agency Malteser International, Janine Lietmeyer  spoke to Lydia O’Kane about the dire situation in the city.


Asked what the most urgent need is, she said, “really, it’s a safe passage out; I mean if you imagine those people have been under besiegement since the middle of last year.”

Ms Lietmeyer added that “fundamentally it’s desperation, I mean their sitting there, there’s nothing really to do, people can’t move on the streets because there’s constant shelling and bombardment, there’s people dying all over the place for many different reasons and they just feel so helpless…”

She said that, they have been hearing reports that, “men face detention even execution, there are rumours about people being shot on the spot, families get torn apart because they separate men and women.”

For those who can’t get that safe passage out, “nothing is getting in” in the way of aid, she said, adding that “the level of destruction is incredible”. 

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