Last updated: 18 July, 2014

UN delivers first aid to besieged Syrian town since 2012

The United Nations has delivered life-saving aid to thousands of people in the besieged Syrian town of Moadamiyet al-Sham for the first time since early 2012, humanitarian agencies said on Friday.

A spokeswoman for the World Food Programme said aid workers with food and hygiene supplies managed to enter the embattled town, 10 kilometres (six miles) south-west of Damascus, on July 14.

“As of July 17, a total of 2,900 family food rations were delivered in support of 14,500 people,” spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said, adding the mission to bring aid to the town had been extended for three days.

But despite the effort an activist speaking to AFP from Syria said the food aid was not enough.

“The amount of aid is so scarce that it won’t be enough for residents of Moadamiyet al-Sham,” said activist Nur Bitar.

The UN Security Council on Monday adopted a resolution authorising humanitarian convoys to Syria without the consent of the Damascus regime, to help more than one million civilians in rebel-held areas.

UNICEF spokesman Chris Tidey said the aid group had delivered hundreds of food items and 40,000 bars of soap to the town, where a truce between Syrian rebels and government troops has been in place since December last year.

“Conditions in Moadamiyet are extremely harsh and there have been reported cases of death by starvation,” said Tidey.

The activist Nur said that ever since the truce went into effect many residents who had fled Moadamiyet al-Sham returned to the town, believing it was safe and that life would be possible there again.

But he said the truce did not bring normalcy back to the town.

Only students and government employees are allowed to exit Moadamiyet al-Sham, said Nur, and thus can bring back food for their families which they buy from a nearby market at steep prices.

They cannot travel any further to do their shopping because of the road is dangerous and dotted with checkpoints, he said.

“At the start of the truce, there was more flexibility (concerning entry and exit from Moadamiyet al-Sham). Now, movement has become much less frequent.”

More than 10.8 million Syrians are in need of aid, say UN officials and accuse Damascus of impeding deliveries of life-saving supplies.