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Steinmeier ups German humanitarian aid to Aleppo

December 2, 2016

German Foreign Minister Steinmeier has pledged a further 50 million euros in humanitarian aid to the besieged city of Aleppo. He also called on all parties to allow a ceasefire after visiting a refugee camp in Lebanon.

Syrien Aleppo Trümmer Kinder Ruinen
Image: Reuters/A. Ismail

In light of the Syrian government offensive in Aleppo, the German government pledged an additional 50 million euros ($53.2 million) in funds to various aid organizations on Friday. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on a visit to a Lebanon refugee camp, announced the donation.

The money is to help provide food, accommodation and medical assistance to the tens of thousands of refugees looking for "protection and shelter" in and around the besieged city, Steinmeier said.

Troops aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began an offensive two weeks ago to capture the rebel-held areas of Aleppo, mainly in the city's east. The fighting has knocked out all hospitals in rebel-held eastern part of the city.

The German foreign minister also noted that many areas in Syria were unable to receive humanitarian aid, not least eastern Aleppo. In light of the dire situation for the city's inhabitants, Steinmeier urged for a new ceasefire so that much-needed aid could be delivered safely.

"We cannot miss a chance to pursue a ceasefire, at least in the next few weeks," Steinmeier said in the Lebanese city of Zahle.

Russia, which is militarily assisting the Syrian government, offered to set up humanitarian corridors in eastern Aleppo, but dismissed the possibility of a ceasefire.

UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday that about 30,000 people were receiving aid after fleeing the east of Aleppo - taking the number of displaced in Aleppo to 400,000.

Germany has provided 2.5 billion euros in humanitarian aid for Syria since 2012.

Steinmeier visits Syrian refugees

On Friday, Steinmeier met with refugees in a provisional camp in Zahle where over 600 Syrians - mostly from Aleppo - have been living in tents and shacks for years.

Steinmeier is also set to speak with Lebanese president Michel Aoun, outgoing Prime Minister Tammam Salam and his successor Saad Hariri in Beirut later on Friday.

According to official estimates, over 1 million Syrian refugees live in Lebanon, but unofficial estimates put the number much higher because of an unknown number of undocumented refugees. In relation to Lebanon's population of 4.5 million, the country has received more refugees than any other country worldwide.

Since its outbreak in 2011, the Syrian civil war has claimed an estimated 400,000 lives and displaced millions.

rs/msh (AFP, dpa)