–Aid convoy reaches besieged suburb of Ghouta, Syria

February 14, 2018


2018-02-14 18:57:12

An aid convoy of nine trucks carrying food, health and other supplies for 7200 people has reached the besieged rebel-held Damascus enclave of Eastern Ghouta, the United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent says.

Wednesday’s convoy is the first since November 28 to enter Eastern Ghouta, where almost 400,000 civilians are under siege, and follows months of pleading by the United Nations for the Assad government to grant access and agree to a ceasefire.

The UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced the convoy in a tweet.

Jakob Kern, Syria country director for the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), said that it had provided a month’s worth of food rations for more than 7000 civilians.

But in a tweet, he said more help is needed.

Typically UN aid convoys to Syria’s hotspots are composed of many more trucks and supplies, and it was not immediately clear on what basis distribution would be made.

Last week was one of the bloodiest in the nearly seven-year-old conflict as Syrian government forces, who are backed by Russia and Iran, bombarded two of the last major rebel areas of Syria – Eastern Ghouta and the northwestern province of Idlib.

The relief items included some 1.8 tonnes of medical supplies from the World Health Organization (WHO), its representative in Syria Elizabeth Hoff told Reuters.

These were enough to provide 10,000 treatments, including antibiotics, dialysis sessions, insulin, life-saving medicines, trauma and pneumonia kits and hospitals beds, she said.

Hoff said that there was no news regarding the more than 700 patients who await medical evacuation from eastern Ghouta, for which the UN health agency has been seeking government approval for months.

Jan Egeland, UN humanitarian adviser, told reporters on February 1 that aid agencies were unable to make deliveries to desperate Syrians for the past two months as President Bashar al-Assad’s government had withheld approval for convoys.

Insurgents were also creating obstacles, contributing to the worst situation since starvation in the government-besieged town of Madaya near Damascus in late 2015, he said.

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