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UN: Syrian Government Blocking Humanitarian Aid

  • Lisa Schlein

Men store bags of flour unloaded from a Red Crescent aid convoy in the rebel held besieged town of Jesreen, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria, March 7, 2016.

Men store bags of flour unloaded from a Red Crescent aid convoy in the rebel held besieged town of Jesreen, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria, March 7, 2016.

A U.N. body set up to monitor the delivery of humanitarian assistance to besieged and hard-to-reach areas in Syria accuses the government of Bashar al-Assad of continuing to hamper the delivery of desperately needed aid.

U.N. Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, says all members of the U.N. Humanitarian Access Task Force are disappointed and frustrated by the lack of improvement in the delivery of aid to hundreds of thousands of Syrians.

Airdrops

He considers it unacceptable aid is not reaching people deprived of food and other relief for many months. He says the one bright spot is that air drops of food supplies into the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor are occurring smoothly.

Deir Ezzor province, with al-Bokamal and al-Mayadin

Deir Ezzor province, with al-Bokamal and al-Mayadin

He says the World Food Program has successfully conducted three technically difficult operations this week. The last one Thursday, when 26 pallets of food were air-dropped into the Islamic State stronghold, a region that remains off-limits by road.

“The next airdrops are also likely to include, not only food items, but medical items, which are very much needed in the area. So far, 55 tons have been airdropped by the World Food Program airplane. This is quite encouraging,” he said.

Vaccination campaign

De Mistura says he believes an important national vaccination campaign will go ahead on April 24. He says he raised this issue with the Syrian authorities he met in Damascus, urging them not to delay this operation.

U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura attends a news conference after a meeting with the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) during Syria Peace talks at the United Nations in Geneva, April 13, 2016.

U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura attends a news conference after a meeting with the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) during Syria Peace talks at the United Nations in Geneva, April 13, 2016.

“That would have been very bad because the Syrian people need to see for their own children, wherever they are the possibility of having this campaign of vaccination in view of the reduction of the coverage and on the fact that, regardless of what we have been hearing in terms of tense moments in some parts of the country, the cessation of hostilities is still holding and, therefore, should be allowing vaccination and, therefore, no excuse for not doing it,” he said.

A third round of indirect Intra-Syrian peace talks began Wednesday. U.N. envoy de Mistura says he plans to hold substantive discussions with government and opposition delegations aiming at a political transition.

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