The inhabitants of besieged rebel-held eastern Aleppo have fewer than ten days to receive aid or face starvation and death from a lack of medical supplies, the head of the Syria Civil Defence, or "White Helmets", said on Thursday. 

The volunteer group which works in opposition-held territory and has rescued thousands of people from buildings bombed in the civil war is also running out of basic equipment from trucks to diesel and gas masks.

Representational Image | Aleppo | Source: Reuters 

 

Raed Al Saleh, director of the 'White Helmets', who was in Stockholm to receive the Right Livelihood Award, known as Sweden's "alternative Nobel prize", told the press: 

"Doctors and the rescue workers in Aleppo are just using what's left of the equipment after bombardments to do whatever they can do," 

Rebels in the eastern part of Aleppo city have agreed to a U.N. plan for aid delivery and medical evacuations, but the United Nations is awaiting a green light from Russia and the Syrian government, humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said on Thursday.

With freezing winter conditions setting in, about 275,000 people are trapped in eastern Aleppo, where the last U.N. food rations were distributed on Nov. 13.

Saleh said doctors were so short of supplies they were resorting to making life and death decisions over who receives surgery since they could not possibly treat all. 

Saleh said the White Helmets had lost 50 percent of their equipment in the last two months.

'White Helmets' volunteers rescuing children from debris in Syria | Source: Reuters 

 

The White Helmets director said his workers had responded to approximately ten chlorine attacks in Aleppo in the last ten days - the last being on Wednesday.

On Nov. 11, the executive body of the global chemical weapons watchdog OPCW condemned the alleged use of banned toxic agents by the Syrian government and by Islamic State militants.

A 13-month international inquiry by the OPCW and United Nations concluded in a series of reports that Syrian government forces were responsible for the use of chlorine barrel bombs against civilians.

Syrian authorities deny having used chemical weapons in the conflict. Islamic State has not commented.

Saleh also criticised Russia, which is backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict.

Representational Image | Children in Syria | Source: Reuters 

 

"I believe the withdrawal of Russia from the International Criminal Court is because it knows it commits war crimes in Syria and it doesn't want to be accountable," he said. 

The White Helmets shared the award this year with Egyptian feminist and human rights activist Mozn Hassan, Russia's Svetlana Gannushkina, who campaigns for the rights of migrants and refugees, and independent Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet.

The four laureates share a cash award of 3 million Swedish crowns ($324,000).

Feature Image Source: Reuters