Phoning into the regular news briefing at UN Headquarters from the war-ravaged city, Sajjad Malik, Acting Resident Coordinator for Syria, told reporters said that while “nothing prepared us for what we saw inside there,” children were coming out of damaged buildings and playing on rubble and that there was “some sense of optimism and hope, because the guns have fallen.” While UN agencies are still unable to provide an exact number of the people currently in Aleppo, Mr. Malik estimated that some 1.5 million are in the city, including 400,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). Some four million people lived in the city before the crisis. “The immediate needs,” he said, “are enormous.”Mr. Malik said that 106 UN staff members are going in and out of the eastern part of the city on a daily basis and are seeking reinforcements from the capital, Damascus, as soon as possible. Spotlighting the extent of some of the humanitarian activities on the ground, he said that to date, some 1.1 million people have access to safe drinking water, seven mobile clinics are providing medical support, 10,000 children have been vaccinated against polio, more than 1,000 wounded children have been sent to hospitals, and 20,000 people are receiving hot meals each day.Rubble, he added, needs to be removed, and the conversation has quickly shifted to discuss how residents can begin to rebuild their lives. So far, some 2,200 families have returned. Yet, many children in Aleppo have gone four to five years without education and are in serious need of psychosocial support – services that the UN International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has begun to provide in at least one area.“Give peace a chance, for once. Do not let them have their hopes dashed again,” urged Mr. Malik. “If there are unresolved issues, let them be addressed differently so that peace can continue here.” He underlined that the last four or five days without violence had already made a huge difference, as evidenced by the optimism of aid workers who have been in the city for months and children who have begun to play in the streets.Following questions about the security situation in the city, Mr. Malik confirmed that there are Syrian soldiers present and that despite continued checkpoints, UN agencies have access to all but one district of Aleppo, which is not yet open to civilians. Aid workers were initially accompanied by staff from the governor’s office, but are now operating freely.Mr. Malik reported that agencies continue to be concerned about feeble infrastructure and families who have not yet been reunited, but that they have neither seen nor received reports about crackdowns on returnees.He also verified that the January plan for the UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has been confirmed, but that the details would need to be worked out. Meanwhile, he emphasized that agencies would require many more reinforcements and resources in order to meet not only long-term reconstruction, but short to medium-term needs as well.“There is optimism, there is hope. Peace needs to be given a chance,” he reiterated. Destroyed health centre in Sakhour, east Aleppo, Syria, which, four years ago, provided 20,000 Iraqi refugees with health care. Today, the UN is looking into its rehabilitation. Photo: OCHA/MB
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “We believe this to be a terrorist act, we believe it has been carried out by violent dissident republicans, our assessment at this time is that the new IRA are most likely to be the ones behind this and that forms our primary line of inquiry.”Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The death of Lyra McKee in last night’s suspected terrorist incident in Londonderry is shocking and truly senseless. Lyra McKee, a 29-year-old journalist, was killed in Londonderry last night, police confirmed Seamus Dooley, of the National Union of Journalists, said the organisation was “shocked by (the) killing of a journalist of courage, style and integrity”. “She was a journalist who died doing her job with great courage.”Ms McKee tweeted about the “absolute madness” in Londonderry in the hours before she was shot dead. She was said to be covering the unrest as violence flared in the city when masked attackers appeared to throw petrol bombs, fireworks and other debris at police Land Rovers.The journalist rose to prominence in 2014 after a blog post called “Letter to my 14-year-old self” in which she spoke about the struggle of growing up gay in Belfast.In the five years since, her letter was turned into a short film, she became a published author with Angels With Blue Faces, and had recently signed a two-book deal with Faber & Faber, as well as appearing in domestic and international publications.Named as one of the “30 under 30 in media” by Forbes Magazine in 2016, Ms McKee, who worked as an editor for California-based news site Mediagazer, a trade publication covering the media industry, was cited for her passion of “digging into topics that others don’t care about”. The police force earlier tweeted: “Police are appealing for calm after a number of shots have been fired and petrol bombs thrown in the Creggan area of Derry.” Ms McKee was said to be reporting on unrest in Londonderry at the time “A family has been torn apart. Those who brought guns onto our streets in the 70s, 80s & 90s were wrong. It is equally wrong in 2019,” she said.”No one wants to go back. My thoughts are also with the brave officers who stood in defence of their community.”Gary Middleton, a DUP former deputy mayor of Derry City Council and current Member of the Legislative Assembly, tweeted: “Disgraceful scenes of violence in the Creggan estate tonight.”PSNI and members of the public being put in danger by unrepresentative thugs intent on destroying communities.” “My deepest condolences go to her family, friends and colleagues. Armed police at the scene of unrest in Creggan, LondonderryCredit:PA Police had cordoned off the Fanad Drive area of Creggan as violence left a van and car burnt out in the middle of a road.Mark H Durkan, SDLP MLA for Foyle, said he was “heartbroken and angry” by the killing, which is being blamed on dissident Republicans.”Just leaving Creggan, heartbroken and angry at the senseless loss of a young life,” he tweeted.”Violence only creates victims, that’s all it ever has done. The thoughts and prayers of our city are with the young woman’s family and friends, may she rest in peace.” Serious rioting now in Creggan, #Derry dozens of petrol bombs have been thrown at police vehicles in Fanad Drive pic.twitter.com/UmztUc0750— Leona O’Neill (@LeonaONeill1) April 18, 2019 A burning car in Creggan, Londonderry after petrol bombs were thrown at policeCredit:PA The unrest comes ahead of the Easter weekend where republicans mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, a time when dissidents are traditionally active.Arlene Foster, Democratic Unionist Party leader, called the killing “a senseless act”. Heavilly armed police guard a crime scene during unrest in the Creggan area of LondonderryCredit:PA Petrol bombs are thrown at police in Creggan, LondonderryCredit:PA Robin Swann, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, said news of the death was “devastating”.He tweeted: “A precious life lost, we can’t go back to this nor can we allow others to drag us back.” Leona O’Neill, a local journalist, said she was at the scene of the killing.Writing on Twitter, she said: “I was standing beside this young woman when she fell beside a police Land Rover tonight in Creggan £Derry.”I called an ambulance for her but police put her in the back of their vehicle and rushed her to hospital where she died. Just 29 years old. Sick to my stomach tonight.” A journalist murdered in Northern Ireland last night has been named as 29-year-old Lyra McKee, as police said they suspected the New IRA of carrying out the attack.The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s (PSNI) Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton confirmed Ms McKee was the victim after shots were fired in Londonderry, with police treating her death as a “terrorist act”. It was suspected “violent dissident republicans” were behind the attack, which police said was most likely perpetrated by the New IRA.Speaking at a press conference this morning, Mr Hamilton said: “Unfortunately, at 11pm last night, a gunman appeared and fired a number of shots towards police and a young woman, Lyra McKee, 29 years old, was wounded,” she said.”She was taken away in a police landrover to Altnagelvin Hospital but unfortunately she has died there. We have now launched a murder inquiry here in the city.