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World Leaders meeting in New York must agree ceasefire in Syria

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Today is a dark day for agencies working on the relief effort in Syria. There can be no excuse for repeatedly bombing a UN and SARC aid convoy and warehouses, killing and injuring Syrian humanitarians who are trying to help people in the midst of a brutal conflict.

Video and audio clips with aid workers in Aleppo, recorded last night and today, are available to download here.

The consequences of last night’s attack are far reaching. Aid convoys have been suspended across the country, leaving hundreds of thousands of children without food, medicine and clean water. There are parts of the country, particularly around Damascus, where families are living under siege and are entirely dependent on UN aid that will now not arrive unless urgent action is taken.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International, said: “There are thousands of human tragedies behind the statistics in Syria. A teacher we work with in Madaya called us yesterday to say she has meningitis, part of a deadly outbreak in the town. She had pinned her hopes on an aid delivery due to arrive today, the first one since April, with food and medicines. That convoy has now been indefinitely delayed, leaving children in Madaya hungry, sick and trapped. It’s a story that is being repeated across Syria.”

“Today here in New York, President Obama and Ban Ki-moon are hosting a summit to bring together world leaders to take action to address the global refugee crisis. A vital part of this is ending the bloodshed and suffering inside Syria once and for all, and after so many broken promises this is a prime opportunity to take action. Despite the huge challenges, we cannot give up on trying to secure peace for Syria’s children.

“The first step must be to get the ceasefire reinstated and back on track, with a focus this time on getting access for humanitarian relief to all areas. Going forward, we need to see an end to the culture of impunity that allows hospitals, schools and aid convoys to be bombed. Too many brave Syrians have lost their lives trying to help others. Save the Children supports the UN’s call for an investigation into last night’s attack – attacks on humanitarians and civilian infrastructure have characterised this conflict to devastating effect.”

In Aleppo itself, doctors and ambulance workers have contacted Save the Children this morning to say the bombing has been relentless and they were overwhelmed with casualties through the night. After a brief respite during the cessation of hostilities, humanitarian staff reported air strikes, barrel bombs and heavy artillery fire in civilian areas. An aid worker from Shafak, a humanitarian organisation working in East Aleppo, said the hospitals are full, ambulances have broken down and children are getting sick from the lack of food.

“Today’s New York summit must also act to help those children and families who have managed to flee such desperate suffering and address the global refugee crisis. Save the Children is calling for world leaders to make political and financial commitments to ensure that no refugee child is out of school for more than one month, and to guarantee that all children forced to flee their homes have access to education, protection, healthcare, nutrition and shelter throughout their journey. Rich countries need to do much more to increase resettlement of refugees and ensure safe pathways to refuge.”

For more information and interviews, please contact +44 7831650409 / c.anning@savethechildren.org.uk / s.edmunds@savethechildren.org.uk