Senior Advisor to the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Jan Egeland, said Thursday that a cessation of hostilities in place in Syria since Dec. 30 had largely held, though clashes between warring factions were still occurring in a number of areas.
“It is positive that the current cessation of hostilities is saving lives in many areas,” he said, but added that fierce fighting was still endangering the well-being of many in the war-torn country.
He also said that nowhere near enough humanitarian aid was reaching those trapped in besieged and hard-to-reach locations, calling both last December and January this year “the two worst months” in terms of humanitarian access since relief operations kicked off in February 2016.
Egeland further warned that the situation in the remote desert town of Deir ez-Zor, in eastern Syria, and Wadi Barada, a strategic area close to Damascus, were particularly concerning.
The diplomat explained that a recent Islamic State (IS) offensive had not only cut Deir ez-Zor in two, but also captured the drop zone used by humanitarian actors to parachute aid into the besieged town.
In Wadi Barada, fierce clashes displaced thousands of families, killed civilians and restricted the mending of vital water works located there, meaning that around 5.5 million people in Damascus had gone almost a month without normal water supplies.
“This kind of situation is screaming for a cessation of hostilities that can hold and enable the repair of the water supply,” Egeland highlighted.
These remarks come ahead of Russian and Turkish-brokered negotiations expected to kick off on Jan. 23 in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana.
The United Nations, which hopes that talks will pave the way towards broader UN-mediated negotiations in Geneva next month, will be represented by the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura. Enditem