For the first time since 2012 an international aid convoy made its way to the Opposition-held Syrian town of Daraya overnight to deliver food supplies, the United Nations said on Friday. The town was completely sieged by Assad’s so-called regime forces.
Aid trucks from the United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent brought a month’s worth of food which would cater to the needs of an estimated 2,400 people, Jens Laerke, spokesman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said.
Any relief inside Daraya did not last long, given that the food supplies would not last a month and the U.N. had undervalued the number of people living there, the local council and a monitoring group reported– the council says the population of Daraya is over 8,000, which is more than double what the supplies account for .
The operation kicked-off late on Thursday and lasted several hours, Laerke said. “They managed to get through all the checkpoints to get in there, deliver overnight, stock what needed to be stocked and provide food for the first time in years to people inside Daraya,” he told a news briefing.
According to Reuters Severe cases of malnutrition have been reported in the town, which is situated only 12 km from Damascus.
U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura, speaking to reporters on Thursday, said that the Assad forces had approved U.N. land convoys to 15 of 17 regime-blockaded areas in June. Air drops remain an option if the convoys did not move, he said.
Wheat flour and other material, health and hygiene items for Daraya’s estimated population of 4,000 were delivered overnight and will be distributed by Red Crescent workers, Laerke added.
Some 1.9 tonnes of medicines for chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes as well as antibiotics and vitamins, from the World Health Organization were on the convoy, spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said.
“However of course we call for unconditional, unimpeded and sustained access to all people in need, wherever they are, but in particular besieged and hard-to-reach areas where we have still about 4.6 million people living under these conditions in Syria,” he added.
However, the government did not approve delivery of three burns kits that would have been enough to treat about 30 people with dressings and pain killers, rejecting them from the approved list, Jasarevic said.
Anger and frustration were a part reaction to the insufficient amount of food aid delivered, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
It cited the Daraya local council saying that supplies brought in would not last two weeks.
Council spokesman Hossam Ayyash said it was unclear how the aid, which would fulfill the needs of only a quarter of the besieged population, would be distributed.
“Of course we are grateful to the team that brought in the supplies, but unfortunately they are not sufficient. We don’t know what decision will be taken (on how to distribute the aid), but it won’t be able to be shared out among everyone who’s here,” Ayyash said.
On Friday Assad regime helicopters stepped up their barrel bombing of Daraya, the Observatory and local council said. Daraya was reported to have been shelled last month after an aid convoy was turned away despite an agreement for it to enter.