Latest on Syria (Astana talks and OCHA update) - Daily Press Briefing by the Spokesman of the Secretary-General (Extract)
Turning to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for that country, spoke at the opening of the talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, and he expressed the hope that those talks would consolidate a cessation of hostilities, while talks in Geneva next month would be used for the genuine relaunching of political negotiations to address the core issues of the conflict.
He said that the violence has dropped in Syria, but it has not ended yet, including in particular in Wadi Barada, where fighting is jeopardising access to water for residents of Damascus and neighbouring areas. He said that sieges are totally unacceptable methods of warfare that cause civilians to be deprived from food, medicines and other essential items.
Mr. de Mistura said the UN remains guided by Security Council resolution 2254, the only viable, internationally agreed basis for a political solution. Its core principle, he recalled, is to foster a cessation of hostilities in parallel with a comprehensive and inclusive political process, where women and civil society play an active role.
His remarks are available online.
Also on Syria, our colleagues at OCHA say an estimated 1.8 million people in Aleppo remain cut off from their main water source since 14 January due to a technical failure at the Al Khafse water station. The station is located in an eastern rural Aleppo area that is controlled by Da’esh, which reportedly are not allowing repair teams to access the water station to make reparations.
The UN, water authorities and other humanitarian partners have been responding with fuel, water trucking, and water purification tablets, and are installing tanks and rehabilitating additional wells in the city.