Call for removal of 'Berlin wall' blocking Syria aid

Humanitarian chief urges for breaking of ''Berlin wall'' blocking humanitarian aid from reaching besieged Syrians

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Aid vehicles near the besieged Syrian city of Madaya

A senior humanitarian leader said on Tuesday that the “Berlin wall” should be torn down by warring Syrian parties who are due to meet in Geneva for peace negotiations in order to allow aid workers to enter besieged areas in Syria.

United Nation (UN) officials and the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland, said that they are ready to talk with any of the fighting parties in Syria- including DAESH - in order to allow humanitarian aid to reach the besieged Syrians with the purpose of saving their lives.

"I am willing to speak to anyone to secure the access of me and my colleagues to people in need," Egeland said.

The Geneva peace talks, which are expected to last for six months, are due to start on Friday after being delayed over disputes regarding which representatives of the opposition would participate in the negotiations.

Egeland, a former UN under-secretary general said that the warring parties should "tear down the Berlin Wall of hindrances they have built between us who can help and millions of defenceless civilians in the conflict zones."

"We need agreed nation-wide humanitarian pauses and ceasefires now," Egeland said. "It can be done from Geneva starting this weekend."

According to UN estimates, more than 4.5 million displaced people are in besieged or hard to reach areas where no aid could reach them. The UN also noted that millions of Syrians who need humanitarian aid are in areas that are under DAESH control.

According to a UN statement released on Tuesday, the United Nations has invited Syria's government and the opposition to peace talks set to start in Geneva on Friday. 

Details of who had been invited or how many groups may participate have not been given. 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has announced that Turkey will boycott Syria peace talks if PKK’s Syrian extension PYD is invited to the latest Geneva meeting.

However, Russia persists on the participation of the PYD in the peace talks. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claims that it is impossible to reach a peace agreement in Geneva without the PYD.

The Syrian opposition is having second thoughts on whether it would attend the peace talks that are due to start on January 29, questioning the UN’s diplomatic efforts, as it blamed the United States for considering ideas from Iran and Russia towards easing the conflict in Syria, ideas they deemed unacceptable.

The Saudi-backed opposition met in Riyadh on Tuesday to decide whether or not to attend the talks, as opposition official Asaad al Zoubi told Arab media that he was pessimistic concerning the matter.

More than 260,000 people have been killed in Syria since the civil war started in 2011 between the Assad regime and opposition forces following the "Arab Spring" movement that swept a number of countries in the Middle-East and North Africa.

About 6.7 million people are displaced internally while at least 5 million have fled the country to the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.

TRTWorld and agencies