While the talks held in Vienna and New York in recent months are expected to launch the peace process for Syria, the humanitarian situation in the country remains dramatic: civilian populations are under siege in many areas and are being forced to live in appalling conditions with no access to food supplies or aid. The decision of the Syrian regime to allow humanitarian access in Madaya is a first step in the right direction; the European Union welcomes it and expects it will be fully implemented and extended by all parties to all the cities under siege.
Humanitarian access must be granted unconditionally so that aid organisations can deliver vital assistance such as food and medicines to people in need, as requested by the UN Security Council. All parties to the conflict must desist from targeting civilian facilities including schools and hospitals.
It will be important to implement concrete confidence building measures in support of the upcoming intra-Syrian political talks scheduled to start at the end of January: an end to attacks on civilians, to aerial bombardments and sieges of civilian areas.