UK & World News

  • 12 February 2014, 10:00

Syria Deal Allows Homs Evacuation To Resume

The evacuation of civilians from besieged neighbourhoods of Homs is set to continue after operations were halted for a day.

Between Friday and Monday, more than 1,150 people were rescued from the area and food and supplies taken in following a UN-mediated deal.

However, due to "logistical difficulties" evacuations were postponed on Tuesday.

The head of operations for Syria's Red Crescent said: "We are expecting that we'll be able to get some more food material in and hoping to get some more people out.

"There are children there, and this is very heartbreaking.

"Our psychological support teams are there to try to deal with the cases as they come out, but eventually the teams themselves will need psychological care because the situation is very emotional and passionate."

The operation has been internationally backed and is providing relief for the estimated 3,000 people who have been trapped in rebel-held areas of the city for more than 18 months.

It has been made possible by a fragile ceasefire that began on Friday and has been extended until Saturday.

The deal has been broken several times, with shelling killing 14 people and aid crews also coming under fire.

Operations were suspended on Tuesday after lengthy talks between the UN representative on the ground and the Homs governor failed to reach agreement on a logistical plan.

A Red Crescent spokesman said there were particular difficulties finding a safe route out for a group of families in the Bustan al-Diwan district.

"They are about 28 families. Most of them are Christians," he said.

"They want to get out but there is no road from where they are to the exit point, so we are pressuring the UN to put on pressure to provide a route for them to get to the exit point."

He said the security situation was significantly worse than in other humanitarian operations undertaken by the Red Crescent.

"We will use any chance we get to get in and deliver aid and help people to leave because we believe this chance won't come again," he said.

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