Syrians stranded at a sealed border with Jordan have received life-saving food and other supplies from the United Nations in a unique operation that saw aid hoisted by crane and monitored by drones across the closed frontier.
Jordan sealed the area following an attack in June on Jordanian military personnel. Before the border closure, UN agencies and partners regularly delivered supplies from the Jordanian side to the people stranded in a ‘no man’s land.’ More than 75,000 people seeking to escape the conflict in Syria are living in that area – earthen embankments between the two countries, known as the “berm.”
“Most are women, children and the elderly – many of them sick or wounded – who have no access to food or medicine. They are living in tents, enduring temperatures of more than 50 degrees Celsius,” said Mageed Yahia, World Food Programme (WFP) Representative and Country Director in Jordan.
“This unconventional operation was designed to give them at least temporary relief,” he explained.
The 650 metric tonnes of aid was delivered this week to two locations, Rukban and Hadalat, over three days, after being lifted from the Jordanian side by 70-metre-high cranes and lowered into encampments.
It was the first humanitarian assistance delivered since the border closure in June, and was the first time that WFP used cranes to deliver relief items. Community and tribal leaders were trained to carry out the distributions. Drones flying overhead monitored the operation to ensure it was conducted in an orderly fashion, according to WFP.
It was a “one-off distribution,” the WFP representative said, adding that a longer-term solution must be found to meet the needs of the tens of thousands of people in the area.