EU offers millions for urgent assistance in war-torn Aleppo

A wrecked hospital room in a rebel-held area in Aleppo last weekend, after it was hit in air strikes. The city, once a commercial powerhouse, is now at the heart of a military campaign by President Bashar al-Assad and his ally, Russia.
A child at a makeshift hospital after receiving treatment yesterday in the rebel-held town of Douma, near the Syrian capital of Damascus. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A child at a makeshift hospital after receiving treatment yesterday in the rebel-held town of Douma, near the Syrian capital of Damascus.
A wrecked hospital room in a rebel-held area in Aleppo last weekend, after it was hit in air strikes. The city, once a commercial powerhouse, is now at the heart of a military campaign by President Bashar al-Assad and his ally, Russia.PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS • The European Union has announced an aid plan for tens of thousands of civilians trapped in Syria's war-ravaged city of Aleppo.

The EU said on Sunday it was unlocking €25 million (S$38.3 million) of funding to help its humanitarian partners in Syria cover "urgent medical, water and sanitation, and food assistance in Aleppo and in other priority areas".

The bloc will work with the United Nations to deliver "basic lifesaving assistance to civilians in (rebel-held) east Aleppo", EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and humanitarian commissioner Christos Stylianides said.

Aleppo, once a commercial powerhouse, is now at the heart of a military campaign by President Bashar al-Assad and his ally, Russia.

The offensive has seen dozens of civilians killed and residential buildings flattened in the east of the city, where an estimated 250,000 people live under government siege.

The UN has said that water and food supplies in eastern Aleppo are running low, while efforts to bring in aid convoys through the Turkish border have stalled.

Citing a "humanitarian tragedy in Aleppo", the EU called on all sides in the fighting "to urgently provide the necessary authoritisations for aid delivery and for medical evacuations to proceed".

The EU and UN are planning to coordinate medical evacuations for those in urgent need, "with a focus on women, children and the elderly". UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien said civilians under bombardment in east Aleppo were facing "a level of savagery that no human should have to endure".

The battle for Aleppo has seen some of the most savage violence in Syria's conflict since March 2011, killing more than 300,000 people and displacing over half the population.

Yesterday, the largest hospital in rebel-held parts of Aleppo was "completely destroyed" after air strikes, the medical organisation that supports it said. The M10 hospital " is gone", according Mr Adham Sahloul of the Syrian American Medical Society.

He added that three maintenance workers were killed in the air strikes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2016, with the headline 'EU offers millions for urgent assistance in war-torn Aleppo'. Print Edition | Subscribe