UN: First airdrop delivers 21 tons of aid to Deir Ezzor

Published February 24th, 2016 - 04:25 GMT
Syrian Red Crescent staff survey the delivery of humanitarian aid in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area, on the outskirts of Damascus on Feb. 23, 2016 during an operation to deliver aid to thousands of besieged Syrians. (AFP/Abd Doumany)
Syrian Red Crescent staff survey the delivery of humanitarian aid in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area, on the outskirts of Damascus on Feb. 23, 2016 during an operation to deliver aid to thousands of besieged Syrians. (AFP/Abd Doumany)

United Nations aid chief Stephen O'Brien said Wednesday that the UN carried out its first airdrop of humanitarian aid to Deir Ezzor, delivering 21 tons of supplies to civilians living under siege, Reuters reported.

"Earlier this morning a WFP (World Food Program) plane dropped the first cargo of 21 tons of items into Deir al-Zor," O'Brien told the UN Security Council. "We have received initial reports ... that pellets have landed in the target area."

Up to 20 people have died of starvation in Deir Ezzor, where 200,000 residents have been surrounded by Daesh militants and face a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation.

Jane Howard, a WFP spokesperson, said that airdrops for humanitarian aid were always a last resort, due to the risky nature of the mission. 

“It would be a complicated operation,” she said. “Airdrops are always a last option for us and we would still prefer land access, which is easier, safer and the most cost-effective. However, we will use every opportunity to reach hungry people.”

The UN has been coordinating with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and a local partner on the ground to ensure the relief is distributed to the people most in need and does not fall into the wrong hands.

UN estimates say more than 480,000 Syrians are living in areas under siege by the Syrian army and various other militant groups.


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