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UN: Aid Has Reached All Besieged Syrian Areas

  • Lisa Schlein

A boy unloads aid parcels in the rebel-held besieged town of Zamalka, in the Damascus suburbs, Syria, June 29, 2016.

A boy unloads aid parcels in the rebel-held besieged town of Zamalka, in the Damascus suburbs, Syria, June 29, 2016.

In what it called a milestone, the United Nations reported humanitarian aid has now reached all of Syria's 18 besieged areas.

The U.N. said this is the first time the besieged towns of Arbin and Zamalka, outside of Damascus, have received international assistance since November, 2012.

The U.N. reported a 37-truck convoy rolled into the towns of Arbin and Zamalka Wednesday evening. They were carrying food, water, sanitation, hygiene and other emergency supplies for 20,000 needy Syrian men, women, and children.

There was a downside, however. Jan Egeland, senior adviser to the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria, said one driver was shot in the chest by a sniper while leaving the area. He said the driver is receiving treatment in a hospital in Damascus.

"But, it was a very close call and it shows how risky this work is because there is no cessation of hostilities in too many places now in Syria," he added. "So, it is in many ways against all odds that we have been able to reach all of the 18 areas at least once and at least with partial assistance."

While the areas have been reached, Egeland said he worries the tens of thousands of starving people who received the first U.N. aid deliveries in January might once again be starving.

He said people in Madaya and Zabadani near Damascus and those in Foah and Kafraya to the north near Idlib have received no further international assistance since then.

He said another matter of great concern is the U.N.'s inability to provide medical services and supplies to the thousands of people trapped in besieged areas.

"The parties to this conflict," he said, "including the government of Syria, have not been willing to follow international law in terms of providing doctors, nurses, medical organizations with all of the permits to serve the civilian population."

Egeland said the warring parties are blocking medical aid to people in besieged areas to prevent doctors from treating wounded soldiers who then might return to the battlefield.

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