UN completes first Iraq-Syria aid airlift
Syrian-Kurdish refugee women wait to fill up water containers at the Quru Gusik (Kawergosk) refugee camp, 20 kilometers east of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. [AFP]
The United Nations completed its first aid airlift from Iraq to Syria on Sunday. This first drop provided much-needed supplies to a difficult-to-access region of the conflict-ridden country.
"The last UNHCR (UN refugee agency) cargo flight landed today at Qamishli airport carrying assistance urgently needed by displaced persons," the UNHCR said in a statement, referring to the location in northeast Syria as reported by The Daily Star.
The airlift started on December 15th with by UNHCR, the UN's World Food Program (WFP) and children's agency UNICEF.
This "was the first time the UN has used Iraq as a hub to deliver relief items into Syria. Road convoys to eastern Syria have been perilous since May as the ongoing conflict hampered the UN's delivery efforts," the UNHCR stated.
"The flights commenced as record snowfall and winter cold struck the Middle East, bringing new hardship to some 9.3 million vulnerable people across Syria, including an estimated 6.5 million internally displaced persons," it said.
During the airlift, the UNHCR sent 300 tons of aid to over 50,000 people dealing with a brutal winter conditions. Simultaneously, the WFP sent enough food to feed over 30,000 people for a month. UNICEF also provided "health kits, water and sanitation equipment".
Land aid shipments will continue even though the flights have stopped.
"Every week UNHCR continues to dispatch 250 trucks throughout Syria carrying relief aid to support some 75,000 persons," it said.