Sense of hope and optimism in eastern Aleppo: UN aid official (Podcast)

Children at a shelter in Jibreen, Aleppo, Syria, play with a cart. Photo: UNICEF/Rzehak

There is a sense of optimism in eastern Aleppo now that “the guns have fallen silent,” a senior UN humanitarian official said on Wednesday.

Acting Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Syrian city, Sajjad Malik was speaking by telephone to journalists at UN Headquarters in New York.

Dianne Penn reports.

Mr Malik and his team have been in and out of east Aleppo since the start of the New Year.

He reported that the destruction they have seen is at a level that is hard to imagine.

Schools, hospitals, shops, heritage sites and other structures are badly damaged or destroyed, he said.

However, he said there is a sense of hope among its citizens.

“It’s hard to imagine what has gone through there, but one thing amongst all this rubble was we could see children coming out and playing on top of these damaged buildings, on rubble; that there was some sense of optimism, some sense of hope, because the guns have fallen silent. And they were out on the street with a bit of hope and optimism that peace will hold, and this is the time when they would be able to rebuild their lives there.”

Mr Malik said immediate needs are “enormous” and UN agencies and their partners are working to assist the population.

He outlined some of the projects they are implementing, such as providing drinking water for over one million people.

He added that more than 1,300 critically-ill and wounded cases were referred to hospitals in western Aleppo while over 10,000 children have been vaccinated against polio.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’19”