The United Nations has requested approval to airlift food into four locations in the town of Daraya if land routes were unavailable, UN officials said on Tuesday. The UN is still waiting for the Assad regime’s agreement for an aid convoy to enter the besieged town.
On May 12, an aid convoy headed to Daraya was refused entry by regime forces despite getting prior approval. Daraya got its first UN aid convoy since 2012 on June 1, but the shipment did not include food. Head of the media office of the Daraya local council Karam Alshami said that the aid trucks that entered the town only contained “half a load or less, not to mention the urgent need was for food.”
The United Nations has said malnourished children in the Damascus suburb will die without outside help.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that as of the morning on 7 June, only a partial approval for overland transport of the second installment of aid to Daraya has been received.
OCHA reiterated on Tuesday the need for full humanitarian access in Syria as only a partial approval for overland transport of the second installment of aid to Daraya has been received.
“The UN is reverting to the government to request full access, in order to be able to send the full convoy with all the food that had been in the plan for June,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York on Tuesday.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, earlier acknowledged that airdrops were costly and fraught with difficulties, adding that easing of blocks on convoys by the Assad regime on June 1 was “too little too late.” Hammond also said that “while airdrops are complex, costly and risky, they are now the last resort to relieve human suffering across many besieged areas. The Assad regime has cynically allowed limited amounts of aid into Darayya and Moadamiyeh but it has failed to deliver the widespread humanitarian access called for by the international community.”
“The blockage of aid is a political issue,” UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told a regular UN briefing in Geneva on Tuesday. “Daraya is 12 km from Damascus, so it can be done but we need the political go-ahead from the government.”
Daraya is one of four besieged areas for which the UN presented the Assad regime’s foreign ministry on Sunday with a backup plan to airlift food if land access is not approved, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. It is awaiting approval.
“The written request included a plan for airlifts – not airdrops – as a last resort, to Daraya, Douma and Mouadamiya in rural Damascus Governorate, and Al Waer in Homs Governorate,” Dujarric added.
So far the Assad regime has only authorized the delivery of medical assistance, school supplies and children’s milk to Douma, Daraya and Mouadamiya during June, but not food. Al Waer was not among the areas approved for delivery of aid in June. (Source: Agencies)