Geneva, 17 December 2016 – UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said:

“With the situation in Aleppo, Syria’s war has reached an historic low. A great city and its population are in tatters and catastrophic failings have been exposed in the international community’s collective resolve. Together with other organizations, UNHCR is doing what it can for the many thousands of civilians who have been forced to flee. But humanitarian action alone can do little to protect in a situation where there is seemingly a collapse of common humanity on all sides.

There are nonetheless clear steps that must be taken now. All military action must halt. All remaining civilians must be allowed safe conduct out from Eastern Aleppo. Priority must be placed on saving lives. Civilians should not be hostage to negotiations.

But this is not all.

Aleppo has become a metaphor for the disastrous situation that Syria is in today, with half the population having been forced from their homes. The forcibly displaced of Syria as a whole, urgently need help as another bitter winter sets in.  The protection of ordinary people has to be a priority, and for that to happen better humanitarian access in all areas is essential. This is a plea to all, and for real, practical and meaningful change.

UNHCR and partners have provided trauma help to more than 8000 children in recent days. Atrocities have been allowed to become commonplace. So many lives have been lost. There is grave risk now that such displacement and suffering will not stop, but will be repeated elsewhere, in other wars. For the sake of civilian protection everywhere, Syria’s conflict must be ended, now, and without delay.”