Women, children free to leave Syria’s besieged city

Geneva, Jan 27: Representatives of the Syrian government said that women and children are allowed to leave the besieged area in the city of Homs, UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said Sunday.

The joint meeting between Syrian government and opposition representatives with Brahimi resumed Sunday, followed by separate meetings between each party and the mediator alone, over the humanitarian issues, particularly in Homs, Xinhua reported.

Brahimi told an after-event press conference that the government said that women and children in the besieged area in the old city of Homs “are welcome to leave immediately, and the other civilians are also welcome to leave”.

“We are going to inform our people in Damascus, or we have already informed them about this, so hopefully, starting tomorrow, women and children will be able to leave the old city of Homs. I hope that the rest of civilians will be able to leave soon after that,” said Brahimi.

The special envoy noted that the country team of the UN has been discussing with the government of Homs about the humanitarian aid to be sent to the besieged, and the convoy is ready, adding that the government of Homs would discuss it with Damascus.

“We hope that something will happen tomorrow, Monday,” said Brahimi.

The envoy revealed that they also held long discussions on detainees, prisoners and the kidnapped.

The government, having been appealed to release the detained women, children and aged, asked the opposition to provide a list of people who are detained by various armed groups.

It’s said that the opposition has agreed that they would try to collect the lists from those organisations that they have authority over or contacts with.

Brahimi said Monday’s negotiations would take the same format of Sunday’s session, starting with the joint meeting between the two parties with the mediation of the envoy himself, and probably to be followed by separate meetings in the afternoon, with the expectation for the two parties to make some general statements on the way forward.

Syria Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad told reporters in the wake of the special envoy’s declaration that the government is ready to give passage for and provide necessities to the women and children if the armed groups let them leave the besieged area of Homs.

As for the access of the humanitarian aid convoy by the UN, he said that they are ready to allow any humanitarian aid to enter into the city through the agreements and arrangements made with the UN, and usually very concrete discussions take place between the governor (of Homs), the UN country team and Syria red crescent.

“The most important issue is that these humanitarian aid convoys should not go to the hands of terrorists,” he stressed.

Makdad said that the requirement for the list was to make sure the identity of those trapped civilians.