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UN Syria Envoy: ‘Devil Is in the Details’ of Russian Aleppo Proposal

News of the Russian military proposal came while the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura was attending a weekly meeting of the Humanitarian Access Task Force.

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Boys read a leaflet dropped by the Syrian army over opposition-held Aleppo districts asking residents to cooperate with the military and calling on fighters to surrender, July 28, 2016. Image source: Reuters
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  • News of the Russian military proposal came while the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura was attending a weekly meeting of the Humanitarian Access Task Force
  • An estimated 300,000 people are trapped in Aleppo
  • De Mistura said he is seriously concerned about the welfare of the people of Aleppo, which has become a de facto besieged city

U.N. officials are studying a new Russian military proposal to establish four corridors to allow civilians and rebels to leave the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

News of the Russian military proposal came while the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura was attending a weekly meeting of the Humanitarian Access Task Force. De Mistura said he and his colleagues were taken by surprise.

Image Source: www.un.org. Image Source: www.un.org
Image Source: www.un.org. Image Source: www.un.org

“It is… premature for me and others to actually make any comments until we have further details on what has been and is the Russian proposal or initiative,” he said.

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Under the Russian proposal, civilians reportedly will be allowed to leave Aleppo through three routes and rebels through a fourth. De Mistura has confirmed that several Russian and, probably American, military experts are on their way to Geneva.

“Most likely in order to discuss the so-called devils in the details,” he said. “… I also want to be able to have my colleagues from the humanitarian side to analyze what are the better information they may be getting on how this Russian initiative fits with a humanitarian initiative.”

300,000 people are struck in Aleppo. Image Source: www.un.org
300,000 people are struck in Aleppo. Image Source: www.un.org

An estimated 300,000 people are trapped in Aleppo.Government forces are encircling the city, making it impossible for aid agencies to bring in food, medicine and other essential supplies.

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De Mistura said he is seriously concerned about the welfare of the people of Aleppo, which has become a de facto besieged city. He says only two to three weeks of food supplies remain.

He warned the clock is ticking before Aleppo becomes a major humanitarian besieged area.

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UN Agencies and Bangladesh Government Advances to Prevent Further Deforestation

Dillon says disappearing forests are putting great pressure on the animals in the region.

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A deforested section of the Chakmakul camp for Rohingya refugees clings to a hillside in southern Bangladesh, Feb. 13, 2018. VOA

U.N. agencies and the Bangladesh government have begun distributing liquid petroleum gas stoves in Cox’s Bazar to help prevent further deforestation, which has been accelerating with the huge influx of Rohingya refugees during the past year.

Cox’s Bazar is home to large areas of protected forest and an important wildlife habitat. The arrival of more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar has put enormous pressure on these precious resources.

U.N. Migration Agency spokesman, Paul Dillon tells VOA, the refugees have been cutting down the trees and clearing land to build makeshift shelters. He says they and many local villagers also rely almost exclusively on firewood to cook their meals.

“Consequently, the forests in that area are being denuded at the rate of roughly four football fields every single day. We are told by the experts at this rate, by 2019 there will be no further forests in that area,” he said.

Deforestation
Deforestation

Scientists note deforestation has devastating consequences for the environment leading to soil erosion, fewer crops, increased flooding and, most significantly, the loss of habitat for millions of species.

Dillon says disappearing forests are putting great pressure on the animals in the region.

“It interrupts migration pathways and regrettably forces these, sort of, artificial confrontations between animals in the wild and communities as they move into areas that have been logged out often-times in search of arable farmland and that type of thing,” he said.

Also Read: First Satellite Launched by Bangladesh

The project aims to distribute liquid petroleum gas stoves and gas cylinders to around 250,000 families over the coming months. U.N. agencies say the stoves will have additional benefits besides helping to prevent deforestation.

For example, they note smoke from firewood burned in homes and shelters without proper ventilation causes many health problems, especially among women and children who spend much of their time indoors. (VOA)