Stephen O’Brien, UN aid chief, spoke in blunt terms, saying calls and demands for an end to the violence in Syria over the last five years, “have largely gone ignored.”
“The parties to the conflict in Syria have shown time and again that they are willing to take any action or do any deed to secure military advantage, even if it means killing, maiming or besieging civilians into submission in the process.”
He called for protection of life and vital infrastructure, and the ability to safely deliver aid to residents.
WATCH: What if Toronto were Aleppo?
The UN has food at the ready for 150,000 people in western Aleppo, but safe passage must be allowed to the eastern enclave, O’Brien said.
“Nowhere has the cruelty of this war been more grimly witnessed than in Aleppo,” said O’Brien. “Its people have been living in a long, terrifying nightmare reality, which no human being should endure.”
The conflict has played out tragically in the divided city of Aleppo, where tens of thousands, mostly women and children, have been displaced from their homes in rebel-held areas since Saturday.
Civilians in some areas are being prevented from leaving, as are humanitarian staff, O’Brien said; in the last week three health staff were killed.
After 150 days of besiegement, the people of Aleppo are running out resources, and time, O’Brien warned. Food and clean water are scarce, and medical facilities have been under attack.
“For the sake of humanity, we call on — we plead — with the parties and those with influence to do everything in their power to protect civilians and enable aid access to the besieged parts of eastern Aleppo before it becomes one giant graveyard.”
On Thursday it was revealed that Turkey and Russia have agreed a ceasefire is needed in Syria to end the tragedy.
However, Syria and Russia have declined the UN’s request for a pause in the fighting to evacuate 400 sick and wounded in need of immediate treatment, but Russia wants to discuss the idea of setting up four humanitarian corridors, the UN’s Jan Egeland told reporters.
“A humanitarian corridor can work if all the armed actors respect it,” Egeland said.
– With a file from Reuters and The Associated Press