A 20-truck aid convoy destined for eastern Aleppo with enough supplies to feed tens of thousands is still stuck in Turkey, a UN aid chief said on Monday, hours after a seven-day cease-fire in Syria expired.
The UN has said it has not received necessary permissions and safety guarantees from the Syrian government for it to proceed with the deliveries to Aleppo and other hard to reach areas. The aid has been sitting at the border for a week.
A seven-day cease-fire declared by the Syrian army expired at midnight, with no announcement of its extension on Monday.
“I am pained and disappointed that a United Nations convoy has yet to cross into Syria from Turkey, and safely reach eastern Aleppo,” the UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien said in a statement.
Up to 275,000 people remain trapped in that part of the city without food, water, proper shelter or medical care, he added.
The 20-truck convoy would have been the first of two that would have carried flour and other food supplies, enough to feed some 185,000 people for one month, he said.
Humanitarian access to Aleppo hinges on control of the main road into the besieged rebel-held part of the city, divided between the government and rebels who have been battling to topple President Bashar Assad for more than five years.
The road needs to become a demilitarized zone in order for aid to proceed. Russia has said the Syrian army had begun to withdraw from the road, but insurgent groups in Aleppo have said they have seen no such move and would not pull back from their own positions around the road until it did so.
“I hope that all parties to the conflict, and those with influence over them, would see the convoy as an opportunity to move forward…Humanitarian aid must remain neutral, impartial and free of political and military agendas,” he said.