UN delivers humanitarian aid to Syria after suspending convoys

Published September 22nd, 2016 - 01:00 GMT
A Syrian soldier stands guard as Red Crescent members wait for opposition fighters and their families to change buses at a Syrian army checkpoint on the edge of the rebel-held Waer neighbourhood in the central city of Homs during an evacuation operation on September 22, 2016. (AFP/Louai Beshara)
A Syrian soldier stands guard as Red Crescent members wait for opposition fighters and their families to change buses at a Syrian army checkpoint on the edge of the rebel-held Waer neighbourhood in the central city of Homs during an evacuation operation on September 22, 2016. (AFP/Louai Beshara)

UN aid convoys resumed on Thursday aid delivery to besieged areas in Syria after a 48-hour suspension to review security guarantees following a deadly attack on relief trucks and a warehouse near Aleppo, a UN spokesman said.

“Today we are sending an inter-agency, cross-line convoy with urgently needed aid to people in a besieged area of rural Damascus,” United Nations humanitarian agency (OCHA) spokesman Jens Laerke said in a statement.

“We have resumed aid deliveries based on the humanitarian imperative,” he added.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent said the convoy attack killed a staff member and around 20 civilians.

US officials believe Russian aircraft were responsible for the strike, but Moscow has denied involvement and the Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday a US Predator drone was in the area when the convoy was attacked.

This was the first convoy to head towards a besieged area since Monday’s attack, Laerke told reported.

“It’s important to understand that the security situation in Syria is not one situation, it’s a patchwork of different levels of security or insecurity, it’s a patchwork of multiple actors and armed groups, and we need to take that into account when we evaluate on a case-by-case basis,” Laerke said.

“So that is what we do, whether we send it to rural Damascus as we do today, or hopefully in the near future we can resume deliveries in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria,” he added.

The UN has estimated that roughly 600,000 people are stuck in Syria’s 18 besieged areas.

Accessing them and others in so-called hard-to-reach areas has become a top UN priority.

Convoys have repeatedly been blocked for security reasons, refusals by the Syrian regime to grant authorization and strict conditions imposed by opposition groups.

The UN, Red Cross and other humanitarian agencies had hoped that a ceasefire agreed earlier this month would allow them to get life-saving supplies to more than a million Syrian civilians.

But the ceasefire’s collapse has held up aid deliveries.


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