A 'meltdown of humanity' in Aleppo: UN

SBS World News Radio: The final stages of the battle for Aleppo have been described by America's United Nations ambassador as a meltdown of humanity.

A 'meltdown of humanity' in Aleppo: UN

A 'meltdown of humanity' in Aleppo: UN

At an emergency meeting of the United Nations, emotions ran high with the fate of the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo hanging in the balance.

Russia's envoy to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, says there's no need for a humanitarian ceasefire as Syrian government forces now control the city and fighting has stopped.

He says a deal has been reached for rebel fighters to leave the city.

"The Syrian government has established control over east Aleppo so now the stage has come for practical humanitarian initiatives. The population that remains there should not need to leave but maybe there should be some civilians who do wish to leave from this destroyed city but the military actions have stopped so this very difficult chapter related to the situation in eastern Aleppo is now ended. It's ended at this stage."

It comes as the U-N says it has reports of over 80 civilians being killed by Syrian government forces and their allies in Aleppo.

The UN claims people are being shot in their homes and in the street trying to flee from the last rebel-held neighbourhoods in the city.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the world has collectively failed the people of Syria.

"Since September the Security Council has failed to adopt three resolutions that could have enabled a humanitarian truce, evacuation of civilians and the entry of lifesaving aid. I have said before that we have collectively failed the people of Syria. The Security Council has not exercised its pre-eminent responsiblity with regard to the main tenets of international peace and security."

Britain's Ambassador to the UN, Matthew Ryecroft, has called for accountability.

"This is a dark day for the people of Aleppo. Surely the darkest of the past five years. (President) Assad's forces, propped up by Russia and Iran have once again redefined horror. They have gone from siege to slaughter. Today the United Nations has received reports that pro-government forces have been entering homes in eastern Aleppo. They've been going door-to-door executing people on the spot. 82 people murdered, 13 of whom were women, 11 were children, none were terrorists."

Half of Syria's 22 million people have been uprooted and more than 400,000 killed since the conflict began six years ago.

A surrender or withdrawal of rebels from Aleppo would deliver Russian-backed President Bashar al-Assad his biggest battlefield victory in the civil war.

The US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, has spoken of desperate pleas from the city's residents.

"A doctor named Muhammed Abu Rajab left a voice message: 'This is a final distress call to the world. Save the lives of these women and children and old men. Save them. Nobody is left. You might not hear our voice after this.' A photographer named Amin al-Halabi wrote on Facebook: 'I am waiting to die or be captured by the Assad regime. Pray for me and always remember us.'"

Syria's UN Ambassador, Bashar Al Jaafari, says the Assad government is innocent of accusations of war crimes.

Mr Al Jaafari accuses the US of hypocrisy and repeated the government's claim it's been conducting an anti-terrorism operation in Aleppo.

"President, I firmly and 100 per cent reject the allegations put by certain members of the security council in this statement talking about acts of revenge, summary execution and terror waged against Syrian civilians by the Syrian government and its forces. As for our actions targeting terrorists these are part of the prerogative of the Syrian government. This is not the fall of Aleppo, this is the liberation of Aleppo."

The Syrian army's main ally, Russia, says it was rebels who were keeping over 100,000 people as human shields.

Russia has vetoed six Security Council resolutions on Syria, and China joined them in vetoing five of those resolutions.

France's Ambassador to the UN, Francois Delattre, says the international community needs to ensure the tragedy of Aleppo isn't repeated.

"Aleppo is both the epicentre of the worst humanitarian tragedy of this early 21st century but also a black hole that destroys all the values of the United Nations. They have just one glimmer of hope and they depend on us so let us act."


4 min read
Published 14 December 2016 at 11:00am