Red Cross Asks for Quick Agreement on Aleppo Evacuation Plan

Boys react as they sit on belongings and wait to be evacuated from a rebel-held sector of eastern Aleppo, Syria December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

BEIRUT, Dec 17  – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) asked Syria’s warring parties to agree quickly on a plan to evacuate people from east Aleppo and provide “solid” safety guarantees on Saturday, a day after the evacuation stalled.

“We’re ready to resume facilitating the evacuation according to our humanitarian mandate. But we now expect all the parties on the ground to provide us with solid guarantees in order to keep the operation going. They’re the ones who have to protect the people and provide safe passage,” said ICRC head in Syria Marianne Gasser in a statement from Aleppo.

The ICRC said thousands of cold and scared people including women, children, the sick and injured, remain in eastern Aleppo waiting for the evacuation operation to continue.

“People are expecting us to continue the evacuation. It’s important that the parties on the ground do their utmost to end this limbo,” Gasser said. “People have suffered a lot. Please come to an agreement and help save thousands of lives.”

The ICRC said it had managed to evacuate around 10,000 people, many of whom were in a critical medical condition.

The World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Syria Elizabeth Hoff, speaking from west Aleppo, told Reuters she was not sure there was time for the evacuations to begin on Saturday.

“It is a quarter past one in the afternoon already. The Russians (who are overseeing the operation) are not keen on working through the night,” Hoff said.

The WHO and other aid workers are not yet present at the transit point in east Aleppo, Hoff said.

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