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Syrian civil war

Aleppo is a reminder to the world

The cries for help of the people in the beleaguered city of Aleppo are a reminder to the world, said federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert. A three-hour daily ceasefire is not enough to alleviate the suffering of the people. Russia is called on to use the huge influence it has over the Syrian President.

Man, woman and child carry water canisters along a stree in Aleppo "There must be an end to the killing and dying in Aleppo," says Steffen Seibert Photo: picture alliance/AP Photo

The cries for help of the people caught up in the fighting for the beleaguered city of Aleppo are a harrowing reminder to the world, said federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert. "There must be an end to the killing and dying in Aleppo."

Steffen Seibert gave the example of Dr al-Khatib, a physician who addressed his pleas directly to Chancellor Angela Merkel. He is one of only about thirty doctors remaining in the city. They are trying desperately to save lives under indescribably difficult conditions. "The Chancellor is listening to these calls for help," said Steffen Seibert at the government press conference on Monday.

No concessions, only cynicism

The announcement of a three-hour ceasefire a day will not alleviate the suffering of the people, said Steffen Seibert, commenting on the most recent Russian proposal. "It is intended to sound like a concession, but it is in fact only cynical."

It is clear to everyone that this is nowhere near long enough to establish supply lines for the desperate people. Every expert for humanitarian aid, such as the Red Cross experts, will tell you that a much longer ceasefire is needed for that.

Russia has a duty to act

"Russia is called on to use the massive influence it has over the Syrian President," said Steffen Seibert. This is all the more urgent since the corridors promised by Russia have either not been opened or have proved to be ineffectual.

The Syrian President and his partner, Russia, must not continue to resist these minimum humanitarian demands. It is up to them whether people continue to die in Aleppo or whether they are given assistance and hope after many months of suffering.

Access to Aleppo

Aleppo needs unhindered supply lines to provide the people with food and medical supplies. "We need at least a limited-period ceasefire, which the UN is urgently trying to bring about, but which has so far proved impossible to achieve."

It is good, he continued, that Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is in Russia to discuss the desperately urgent situation faced by the people left in Aleppo with his Russian counterpart. Before the meeting Frank-Walter Steinmeier already advocated humanitarian access.

Prospects for the whole of Syria

In a newspaper interview Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier advocated granting access to Aleppo for humanitarian supplies. The German government is engaged in talks with the United Nations, the USA and Russia to identify how urgently needed aid can be supplied to Aleppo, he said in an interview with the German Sunday newspaper "Welt am Sonntag".

A solution is needed for the whole of Syria, said Frank-Walter Steinmeier. "It is not the attempt to resolve the conflict through negotiation that has brought us to this tragic impasse, but the illusion that the conflict can be resolved using military means."

This year Germany is the largest donor of humanitarian aid for Syria, and has provided almost one billion US dollars for this purpose. In Aleppo, Germany is, for instance, supporting hospitals and power supply, which is crucial to keep the drinking water pumps running. The German government is also helping the United Nations efforts to supply food. And Germany is financing humanitarian measures in other parts of Syria and in neighbouring countries.

Success in the fight against the "criminal domination of the IS"

Examples such as the city of Manbij on the Turkish-Syrian border demonstrate that it is possible to end the criminal domination of the IS said Steffen Seibert. The city is one of a number of places in Syria and Iraq that have been liberated from the criminal domination of the IS, he said.

"Manbij demonstrates that it is possible to force back the IS, and debunk the myth that they are destined to victory," said Steffen Seibert. In this context the government spokesperson pointed to the local forces on the ground and the air support provided by the international coalition against the IS.

Aug 15, 2016