02/08/2014, 00.00
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Nuncio in Damascus: Homs truce a "small step”, but do not forget millions of other Syrians

Today, the second day of the truce, the first convoys of food and medicine for 2500 for civilians trapped in the old town expected to arrive. Archbishop Mario Zenari also draws attention to the "2.5 million people across the country", living in a "catastrophic humanitarian situation". The Damascus regime confirms its participation in the second round of "Geneva II".

Homs ( AsiaNews) - "We thank the Lord for this positive first step, though small and minimal. But let us not forget that not only the 2,500 civilians trapped in the old district of Homs are hungry and without access to humanitarian aid, but also 2.5 million Syrians throughout the rest of the country". These are the thoughts of Msgr. Mario Zenari, apostolic Nuncio in Damascus, who has spoken to AsiaNews about the humanitarian operation in Homs, the result of the agreement between the Syrian regime and the UN. Today, the second day of the three-day temporary cease-fire, the aid convoys are preparing to enter with food and medicine.

Yesterday about 83 people - mostly women, children and the elderly - were evacuated from areas controlled by the rebels, where they were virtually trapped for more than 18 months. According to local sources, many of them were weak and exhausted suffering severe malnutrition. Some speak of not having tasted bread in at least five months.

The agreement is the first humanitarian gesture on the part of the regime after the first round of talks in Geneva II. At the meeting the UN had pushed for humanitarian corridors in different parts of Syria, including Homs, but the two sides failed to reach any agreement. The Syrian government says it favors helping civilian population, but not the armed rebels and "terrorists".

Meanwhile, Damascus has announced its participation in the second round of "Geneva II" negotiations on 10 February. Deputy Foreign Minister and member of the Syrian delegation, Faisal Mikdad, confirmed as much today to the state agency Sana: "Restoring security and stability to Syria makes it necessary to discuss putting an end to terrorism and violence as stated in Geneva Communique and that the two Syrian sides agree on that for the protection of the Syrian citizens' lives and stopping the Syrian bloodshed at the hands of the armed terrorist groups and their regional and international backers".

"This positive signal - says Msgr. Zenari - must be open to hope, but at the same time should not be a shield for all that's going on. It took months and months of negotiations to get humanitarian aid to these 2,500 people, and we must not forget the catastrophic humanitarian situation prevailing among the entire Syrian population. The people who have died under the bombs, caught up in the open conflict, people who need to escape every day from places where war still rages, whose homes are now destroyed. We must speed up negotiations. There are millions of people who can not wait any longer".


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