Thousands of people remain in opposition areas in Syria's Aleppo

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Children displaced from ongoing conflict shelter under makeshift tents on Muhalak highway in the western part of Aleppo, Syria. Photo: UNICEF/Khuder Al-Issa

Tens of thousands of people remain in rebel-held areas in Aleppo in Syria, as a government offensive to retake the eastern part of the city intensifies; that's according to the UN Special Envoy for Syria.

Staffan de Mistura was addressing an emergency meeting of the Security Council as heavy fighting was expected to continue in the most densely populated areas of the city.

Andita Listyarini reports.

The civil war in Syria started over five years ago and it's estimated around half a million people have been killed.

Up to 20,000 civilians have fled their homes in eastern Aleppo in the past few days but many are unable to get to safety, as Mr de Mistura told the Council.

“We’ve received reliable reports that indicated, in many cases, opposition groups have been actually preventing civilians from leaving areas under their control. They’re also concerned that upon reaching areas controlled by the government, or by the Syrian defence forces, civilians perceived to have links or connections with armed opposition groups may have been detained. Tens of thousands of civilians on all sides are therefore in need of aid.”

The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien said that the parties to the conflict in Syria have shown time and again that they are willing to take any action to secure military advantage even if it means killing, maiming or besieging civilians into submission in the process.

He had this message for the Security Council.

"It may be too late for many of the people of eastern Aleppo, but surely this Council can come together, stop the brutality and also prevent a similar fate doesn't befall other Syrians. What they and we need to see above all is three things: one real respect and protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure; two  safe, rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access; and three an end to brutal sieges once and for all. These are neither new nor complicated demands , but common threads of humanity that we all have a responsibility to rally around."

The UN has reiterated the need for a political solution to the crisis in Syria.

Andita Listyarini, United Nations

Duration: 2’01″

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