UN Coordinator in Aleppo, Sajjad Malik “Give Peace A Chance”
nsnbc : The United Nations Resident Coordinator for Syria, Sajjad Malik, expressed hopes because the ceasefire in Syria is largely holding. Malik stressed that peace needs to be given a chance.
Sajjad Malik stressed that the damage in Aleppo was extreme but that aid workers, nonetheless, were inspired by signs of optimism and hope. The UN official almost brought to mind the spirit and lyrics of the late John Lennon “All we are saying is give peace a chance”, when he said “There is optimism, there is hope. Peace needs to be given a chance”.
Participating in the regular news briefing at the UN headquarters in New York City from Aleppo, Sajjad Malik said that “nothing prepared us for what we saw inside there,” children were coming out of damaged buildings and playing on rubble and that there was “some sense of optimism and hope, because the guns have fallen.”
Malik estimated that some 1.5 million are in the city, including 400,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). Some four million people lived in the city before the crisis. It is an estimate, as UN agencies are still unable to provide an exact number of the people currently in Aleppo. He stressed that “the immediate needs, are enormous”.
The Resident UN coordinator said that 106 UN staff members are going in and out of the eastern part of the city on a daily basis and are seeking reinforcements from the capital, Damascus, as soon as possible.
Highlighting the extent of some of the humanitarian activities on the ground, he said that to date, some 1.1 million people have access to safe drinking water, seven mobile clinics are providing medical support, 10,000 children have been vaccinated against polio, more than 1,000 wounded children have been sent to hospitals, and 20,000 people are receiving hot meals each day.
However, despite colossal efforts by the Syrian government, Aleppo governorate, Russia and international NGOs including the UN, it is important to notice that many children in Aleppo have gone four to five years without education and are in serious need of psychosocial support.
Malik said that the UN International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has begun to provide in at least one area. However, even an unprecedented UNICEF effort can’t be a substitute for normalizing the situation in Syria so that the Syrian State can provide for its own people again, without the need for external “aid”.
“Give peace a chance, for once. Do not let them have their hopes dashed again,” urged Malik. “If there are unresolved issues, let them be addressed differently so that peace can continue here.”
CH/L – nsnbc 05.01.2016