Accessibility links

WFP Distributes Food to Syrians Fleeing Aleppo

  • Lisa Schlein

FILE - Syrians fleeing the conflicts in the A'zaz region congregate at the Bab al-Salam border gate, Syria, Feb. 5, 2016.

FILE - Syrians fleeing the conflicts in the A'zaz region congregate at the Bab al-Salam border gate, Syria, Feb. 5, 2016.

More than 30,000 people displaced by the relentless bombing of Aleppo are stranded along the Syrian side of the border with Turkey, according to the United Nations. Aid agencies say the civilians, most of whom are women and children, are in dire straits and urgently need shelter and food.

The World Food Program has transported food from Turkey into the small town of A’zaz in northwest Syria, 30 kilometers northwest of Aleppo city.

But more refugees are expected if fighting continues.

“As you can imagine, we are extremely concerned about the situation on the ground,” WFP spokeswoman Bettina Luescher said. “We are worried about access and supply routes from the north to eastern Aleppo. Those have been cut off. We are making every effort to get food to the people. This is part of our always moving response to the situation inside Syria.”

Luescher said efforts are being made for more food to be distributed to about 21,000 people newly displaced by the surge of violence in Aleppo.

Mobile health clinics, water and sanitation services are being furnished at camps near the Bab al-Salam border crossing, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

U.N. refugee spokesman William Spindler said Turkey has been providing assistance inside Syria, and authorities have allowed a number of vulnerable and wounded people to enter the country.

“However, many people are not being allowed to cross the border and we are asking Turkey to open its border to all civilians from Syria who are fleeing danger and seeking international protection, as they have done since the start of this crisis,” Spindler said.

Turkey has shouldered a huge burden in hosting 2.5 million refugees during the past five years of civil war, the U.N. said, calling on the international community to swiftly and meaningfully increase support.

U.N. Humanitarian Chief Stephen O’Brien said Tuesday that he is “gravely concerned” about the situation in Aleppo, Syria, where government and allied forces have launched a major offensive on rebel-held parts of the area.

The U.N. has warned that some 30,000 civilians – most of them women and children -- have been displaced by the fighting over the past week, making it even more difficult and dangerous to reach them with food and other vital supplies.

The statement of U.N. Humanitarian Chief Stephen O’Brien about Aleppo: