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Aleppo Update: What is becoming of Syrian families fleeing East Aleppo?

By       Message Franklin P. Lamb       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   4 comments

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Jibreen Refugee Center, SW of Aleppo

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Events as of 12/11/2016 are unfolding fast here while the shelling of East Aleppo continues unabated despite the repeated assurances of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, including yesterday on the sidelines of a European foreign ministers meeting in Germany: "I can tell you that today, combat operations by the Syrian army have positively been halted in eastern Aleppo because there is a large operation under way to evacuate civilians." The oft-promised ceasefire is to allow for the evacuation of civilians trapped in the battle zone according to Mr Lavrov who claimed some 8,000 people would be taken out on 12/8-9/2016/. Few here had much confidence in his words given all the false starts that produced nothing over the past year. Rebels in East Aleppo have also called for a truce to allow civilians to leave but both parties believe the other will use any pause to regroup for another round of fighting.

Moreover, despite Russian assurances, the bombing of East Aleppo has escalated as of 12/10/2016 after having eased for a few hours in the area. This morning a UN source emailed that 1000 people had been killed and up to 4000 injured during the past four weeks in the area under siege. During the same period rebel mortars have reportedly killed more than a dozen civilians in government controlled West Aleppo this past week.

Lavrov abruptly reversed himself on 12/9/2016 declaring that East Aleppo will continue to come under bombardment indefinitely and until there are no more rebels in the city. Announced Lavrov without taking reporters' questions in Hamburg: "After a humanitarian pause, (the strikes) have resumed and will continue for as long as the bandits are still in Aleppo." Lavrov told journalists meeting in Hamburg. This as his Ministry in Moscow claimed that 10,500 people, including 4,015 children have left eastern Aleppo in the past 24 hours. If so, there is no evidence supporting this statistics in the Jibreen Center SW of Aleppo where this observer is presently and where all who flee East Aleppo are immediately taken for "processing."

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While Lavrov and Kerry are once more (12/10/2016) in discussions on this subject it's not clear if the Assad government will agree to a ceasefire other than on a surrender first basis. Some think it may have no choice in the matter given Russia's political and military influence here but others claim that Iran and Syria will reject any Russian agreement penned with the USA and the regimes goal is total "liberation" of all of Aleppo.

That will likely happen within days even as ISIS reoccupies Palmyra because Russian and Syrian troops were ordered to leave Palmyra because they were needed in Aleppo. Meanwhile, Jan Egeland, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Syria in Geneva, said the parties to the conflict were poles apart on agreeing the terms of a ceasefire and the five months of negotiations over aid plans had all failed and produced "nothing", adding that it was up to Moscow and Washington to agree a safe voluntary evacuation from east Aleppo.

Against this discouraging backdrop, most Syrian civilians fleeing East Aleppo are receiving some lifesaving aid from 12 Syrian volunteer student and civil society associations, UNICIF, WHO the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Russia, Palestinian volunteers from their own nearby refugee camps of Neirab and the camp-based Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) among a few others.

For political reasons, Russia is making the key decisions regarding which NGO's and which countries are allowed to participate in offering humanitarian aid to the fleeing civilians from the East. The message being conveyed by some Russian TV crews and journalists wandering the Jibreen Center grounds is that this is a Russian humanitarian undertaken (as was Palmyra and the Russian concert nice months ago in the ancient city's Amphitheatre and that the EU and US among others are not welcomed.

But despite political point-scoring maneuvers, arrivals from East Aleppo are being helped and Russia deserves credit for its medical clinic and some food distribution although as noted below, much more help is urgently needed.

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What do Syrian citizens arriving from East Aleppo most need to survive?

What refugees fleeing East Aleppo are most in need of as of 12/11/2016 at the Jibreen Center and the nearby Cotton Factory shelter and well as the village of Hanano where many are being transferred to include but are not limited to those describe below. This summary is based on a three-day survey of residents and NGO's undertaken by two volunteers from the Beirut, Nice and Washington, DC based NGO, Meals for Syrian Refugee Children Lebanon (MSRCL) .

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Since 2013, Professor Franklin P. Lamb has traveled extensively throughout Syria. His primary focus has been to document, photograph, research and hopefully help preserve the vast and irreplaceable archaeological sites and artifacts in (more...)

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