Dear President Obama
As 63 Syrian NGOs directly serving and advocating for the three hundred thousand residents remaining in eastern Aleppo we call on the United States, as the co-chair of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), to take immediate and concrete actions to avert the impending starvation of eastern Aleppo and to end the war crimes being committed in the city by Syrian government forces and the Russian Federation.
According to UN figures, the encirclement of eastern Aleppo by government and allied forces will represent a 50% increase in the number of people living under siege in Syria. Innocent families, including approximately 85’000 children under the age of fourteen and 13’250 children under the age of two, have roughly three weeks of supplies left before hunger will set in. The countdown is on for these people. Markets have already been emptied and fuel prices have tripled. Despite the bravery of vendors and aid workers who have attempted the fateful pass along the Castello Road since its closure attacks on vehicles have made the journey virtually impossible.
Eastern Aleppo’s entire medical infrastructure is on the verge of collapse. Syrian or Russian airstrikes have left only 4 hospitals in eastern Aleppo capable of handling trauma cases. Airstrikes this weekend hit four other hospitals and took the life of a two-day old child, who chocked when an explosion cut off oxygen to the room in which he was being cared for.
If the siege continues medical supplies in the city will only last around another sixty days. Many doctors remain unable to enter the city leaving just 33 physicians to treat more than 300’000 people – or just one doctor for roughly every 10’000 residents. The 33 physicians include just nine surgeons capable of treating the most grievously ill and injured. Of the patients in their care 400 need to be immediately evacuated if they are to survive.
In the ISSG statement of May 17, the United States committed to use its influence to ensure immediate and sustained humanitarian access to those in need and intensify efforts to stop the further indiscriminate use of force. At this critical juncture for the people of Aleppo, the US must intensify its efforts to make these commitments a reality. We call on your office to urgently pursue the following:
- Use ongoing conversations regarding cooperation with UN Security Council members to press the Syrian government and the YPG to uphold their humanitarian obligations and allow sustained and unfettered access to Aleppo via any means possible;
- Directly pressure the YPG, that is besieging Aleppo from the Sheikh Maqsood district, to allow the delivery of essential supplies such as fuel, medical items and food via the Castello Road into eastern Aleppo, without physical or financial impediment, and to permit the safe evacuation of critical medical cases and civilians wishing to flee the city and to lay down consequences for non-compliance with this;
- Should humanitarian agencies gain access to the city, facilitate the scaling up of cross-border operations from Turkey to address the immediate and future humanitarian needs of those in Aleppo.
Attacks on Civilians:
- Use your ongoing talks with UN Security Council members to press them, and by extension the Syrian government, to immediately halt the bombing of eastern Aleppo. It is civilians and civilian objects who are taking the overwhelming brunt of the bombing campaign.
Should your talks fail to end the bombing of areas predominantly occupied by civilians then it is highly unlikely any siege of the city could be broken. In this scenario you will be helping condemn 300’000 people to the slowest and cruelest of fates.
We fully recognize the primary responsibility the Syrian government and the Russian Federation bear for this situation but the United States’ position as co-chair of the ISSG means it carries a special responsibility to ensure its Russian counterpart upholds the commitments it has made to the Syrian people.
The harrowing statistics hide a deeper story of continued resilience and hope. Like your children, the children of Aleppo have their own dreams and ambitions. On July 16th, 418 children began their end of year school exams, determined to achieve a passing grade after weeks of preparation in the most difficult of circumstances. In an all too familiar story, fierce shelling interrupted life and cut their exams – and many lives – short. 60 people died in the city that day.
We are in a situation where it will only be through a unity of effort that the political, humanitarian and human rights crisis facing Aleppo and all of Syria can be fully addressed. We would therefore welcome the opportunity to discuss with you the points raised in this letter at the earliest opportunity.
– Abrar Halap Association for Relief and Development
– Ahl Horan
– Aleppo Pathway
– Al Sham Humanitarian Foundation
– Alseeraj for Development and Healthcare
– Ataa for Relief and Development – ARD
– Attaa Association
– Balad Syria Organization
– Basmet Amal Charity
– Big Heart Foundation
– Bihar Relief Organisation
– Binaa Organization for Development
– Damascene House Foundation for Society Development
– Deir Elzzor United Association – FURAT
– Education Without Borders – MIDAD
– Enjaz Development Foundation
– Ghiath Matar Foundation
– Ghiras Al Nahda
– Ghiras Foundation Syria
– Hand in Hand for Syria
– Help 4 Syria
– Human Care Syria
– Ihsan for Relief and Development
– Independent Doctors Association – IDA
– Insan for Psychosocial Support
– International Humanitarian Relief – IYD
– International Supporting Woman Association – ISWA
– Irtiqaa Foundation
– Kesh Malek
– Maram Foundation for Relief & Development
– Mountain Foundation
– Najda Now
– Nasaem Khair
– Orient for Human Relief
– Qitaf Al Khair Relief Association
– Saed Charity Association
– Save A Soul
– Sedra Association for Charity
– Shama Association
– Snabel Alkhyr
– Social Development International – SDI
– Space of Hope
– Syria Al Gad
– Syria Charity
– Syria Relief
– Syria Relief and Development – SRD
– Syria Relief Organization
– Syrian American Medical Society – SAMS
– Syrian Education Commission – SEC
– Syrian Engineers for Construction and Development Organization – SECD
– Syrian Expatriate Medical Association – SEMA
– Syrian Medical Mission
– Syrian Orphans Organization
– Takaful Al Sham Charity Organization
– The Syrian Establishment for Human Care & Enhancement – MASRRAT
– Tuba Dernegi
– Unified Revolutionary Medical Bureau in East Ghouta
– Union of Relief and Medical Care Organizations – UOSSM
– Union of Syrians Abroad
– White Hands – Beyazeller
Cc: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Office of the Secretary of Defense, US Department of Defense;
Secretary John Kerry, Secretary of State, Office of the Secretary, US Department of State