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HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF CIVILIANS PENNED INTO EAST ALEPPO


Tuesday, 29 November 2016 - 8:45am

As attacks close in, Save the Children is hearing disturbing reports from Aleppo that men and teenagers who are forced to flee to government areas are being separated from their families.

We are deeply concerned that thousands of people have been made homeless leaving children to be little more than sitting targets for bombs.

In a little over 36 hours, the latest assault on East Aleppo has displaced thousands of people and cornered some 250,000 in the last opposition-held area of the city as the Syrian army and its allies have taken key district, after key district. Up to 100,000 children are unable to escape the destruction.

“With so many people trapped in an ever-shrinking space, children can be little more than sitting targets for bombs,” said Sonia Khush, Save the Children's Syria Director. “We are hearing that things are so bad that many families fear they will not live through the night.”

Those who have fled into the last remaining portion of opposition-held Aleppo have been displaced into a scene of utter devastation where existing residents have already been living in the streets for weeks, amid dilapidated buildings and without adequate food or shelter.

Our Syrian partners working in East Aleppo tell us that thousands of people, including many children, have now been made homeless and left with nowhere to run or hide as the Syrian army continues to push ahead with its offensive.

“We are hearing reports that dozens of families have been moved to recently captured areas of East Aleppo although all contact with the families has since been lost,” Khush said.

“We are extremely worried about what kind of conditions they are being subjected to and deeply concerned for their safety, especially given unconfirmed reports that men and boys are being separated from their families, interrogated and even arrested.”

Amira*, a nurse working in East Aleppo, said that a large part of her hospital had been recently destroyed in an airstrike and doctors and nurses had been forced to the basement where services had been reduced “to almost nothing”.

“I am hearing reports that when the army advanced, they arrested all men above 18 years old, and that they were treating the families in a harsh way,” Amira added.

Civilians are also at growing risk from unexploded ordinances that litter the city.

“As more people try to take shelter amidst the ruins or try to find ways to escape in all the chaos, the chances that cluster bombs and unexploded ordinance will go off, killing and injuring helpless civilians, is only rising,” Khush said.

With the government widely expected to continue making advances over the coming hours and days, the already unacceptably high risks to children will only spiral. 

Save the Children continues to call for humanitarian access to civilians across Aleppo who are still without access to clean water and medical access. We also urge all sides to ensure that children are protected and spared from the worst impact of the violence in the city, with civilians who want to flee being allowed to do so safely.

Spokespeople are available.

Please contact Tracy.Manner@savethechildren.org +44 (0) 7515 029115

or Simona Sikimic at simona.sikimic@savethechildren.org

For 24 hour enquiries call +44 (0) 7831 650 409 

*Identities have been changed for security reasons.