The United Nations refugee agency and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) said today they managed to bring humanitarian aid to a besieged neighbourhood in eastern Aleppo, an area that had been cut off from assistance since last June.
The “rare and risky” operation to deliver aid to Boustan al Qaser was carried out following agreement with the Syrian Government and the opposition, according to a news release issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Two trucks packed with blankets, plastic sheeting, hygiene kits, and kitchen sets and food were offloaded at the last checkpoint at the outskirts of the city.
The goods were then transported into the community using 54 pull-carts and 75 workers, back and forth, 1.5 kilometres each way and in 270 trips, for later distribution to a SARC warehouse and then soon to the needy population.
“A ceasefire, agreed for the duration of the operation, was fully respected by all parties,” said UNHCR.
The agency’s staff observed a dire humanitarian situation inside eastern Aleppo, noting an acute shortage of food, water, medicine and basic supplies.
UNHCR said it had last accessed the area in June 2013 and no humanitarian aid has reached the population there since then.
It is estimated that some 6.5 million of Syria’s 22 million people have been displaced inside the country, while another 2.6 million are now refugees, mainly in neighbouring countries. The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate as the conflict that began in March 2011 between the Government and opposition groups continues unabated.
Humanitarian appeals for Syria and the region remain severely underfunded, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Aid groups working in Syria and in countries housing Syrian refugees have received only 20 per cent of the $6.5 billion they need in 2014. They still require $5.3 billion.