As the war in Syria continues unabated, aid workers in eastern Aleppo were distributing the last available food rations yesterday as the quarter of a million people besieged in the opposition-held Syrian city entered what is expected to be a cruel winter, U.N. humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said.
"I don't think anybody wants a quarter of a million people to be starving in east Aleppo," Egeland said, referring to the number of civilians the UN says are living under siege. Egeland said he was confident access would be possible after four months of deadlock because "the consequences of no help and no supplies will be so catastrophic I cannot even see that scenario".
The U.N. official also warned that the incoming cold weather will be "a real killer" and said the UN urgently needed approval for its eastern Aleppo relief plan. The plan includes the delivery of medical and food supplies as well as medical evacuations and deployment of medical personnel.
U.N. aid convoys have not reached the besieged eastern part of Aleppo since July, when regime forces cut off the last supply route. Syria's second biggest city, Aleppo, has become the top strategic point that will determine Syria's fate, as opposition groups in and around Aleppo launched a counter-offensive to try and break Assad's suffocating siege off Aleppo's eastern-held neighborhoods for several weeks.
The area has been subjected to a ferocious campaign of aerial attacks by Russian and Syrian regime warplanes, and hundreds of people have been killed in recent weeks according to opposition activists and trapped residents.
Aleppo is the focal point of the six-year war in Syria. Assad has said he is determined to retake the country's largest city and former commercial capital. The Assad forces have maintained a siege on the opposition-held eastern quarters since September. The U.N. estimates 275,000 people are trapped inside with dwindling supplies of food and medicine.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests erupting as part of the "Arab Spring" uprisings with unexpected ferocity. Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-torn country, according to U.N. figures.
More than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-battered country, according to the .UN. However, the Syrian Center for Policy Research, a Beirut-based nongovernmental organization, puts the death toll from the five-year conflict at more than 470,000.
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