United Nations Syrian envoy Staffan de Mistura Friday urged Russia to let the U.N. take charge of humanitarian corridors allowing civilians to escape the besieged city of Aleppo. De Mistura voiced provisional support for the humanitarian passages proposed by Moscow, but said the U.N. wanted to see key changes to the plan. “Our suggestion is to Russia to actually leave the corridors being established at their initiative to us,” de Mistura told reporters in Geneva. “The U.N. and humanitarian partners know what to do.”
He also echoed calls by U.N. humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien for a 48-hour truce to allow life-saving supplies into the city’s rebel-held east, which has been surrounded by pro-government forces since July 17. “How can you expect people to want to walk through a corridor, thousands of them, while there is shelling, bombing fighting,” the U.N. envoy said.
Russia, a key ally of President Bashar Assad, called for the opening of the passages on Thursday for civilians and surrendering fighters seeking to exit Aleppo. “We are in principle and in practice in favor of humanitarian corridors under the right circumstances,” de Mistura said, adding that the U.N. had been “studying” the Russian plan. He said Moscow needed to provide more information on how the system would work, while reiterating the U.N. position that no civilian should be forced to leave Aleppo.
“The clock is ticking for the Aleppo population,” said de Mistura, who estimated that essential supplies including food in the east were likely to run out within three weeks.