News / Middle East

Agencies: Fragmented Opposition, Syrian Government Both Hamper Aid

A Syrian refugee girl sits on humanitarian aid boxes, received by her father at Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, Sept. 8, 2013.
A Syrian refugee girl sits on humanitarian aid boxes, received by her father at Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, Sept. 8, 2013.
Reuters
Aid workers are having to negotiate with an increasing number of rebel sub-factions to organize delivery of aid to Syrian civilians, while the government continues to deny access to many areas, severely hampering their work, agencies said on Friday.

Bringing supplies from the capital to the divided northern city of Aleppo - a distance of 355 kilometers - is slow and fraught, said Pierre Kraehenbuehl, director of International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] operations worldwide.

“When colleagues of ours travel from Damascus to Aleppo it is something between 50 and 60 checkpoints on the way. This is what you have to deal with,” he told a news conference in Geneva.

“Therefore it multiplies the number of people that you need to talk to on the ground, from a variety of groups, everything from organized armed forces across to loosely structured non-state groups, rebel groups, but also of course the criminal actors,” he said.

“... there is very strong fragmentation on the opposition side and you have multiplicity of groups, sometimes even disagreement within the same group, so that you have to negotiate with several factions within the same opposition group,” said Kraehenbuehl.

The World Food Program, which is trying to bring rations to 3 million Syrians a month, said armed groups in the northeast have blocked roads and more areas of Damascus and the countryside around the city are inaccessible due to fighting.

Hundreds of rebels have pledged allegiance to al-Qaida-affiliated forces in northern and eastern Syria, activists and Islamist sources said on Friday, strengthening the group's control in the region.

Entire units have joined the small but powerful al-Qaida-linked groups - the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] - in recent days, according to the sources inside Syria.

The ICRC, an independent humanitarian agency, is in contact with all groups and is able to work in some opposition- and government-held areas of Aleppo, said Kraehenbuehl.

  • This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network shows anti-Syrian regime protesters hold a poster depicting U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kafr Nabil, Idlib province, Sept. 20, 2013.
  • Children sit along a damaged street filled with debris in the besieged area of Homs, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • Debris is seen on the ground after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • An injured man walks along a street after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad shows a Syrian military tank on fire during clashes with Free Syrian army fighters in Joubar, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 18, 2013.
  • A member of the Shohadaa Badr Brigade, which operates under the Free Syrian Army, stands in shooting position behind sandbags in Ashrafieh, Aleppo, September 17, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk through rubble inside the old city of Aleppo, Sept. 16, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he stands on rubble of damaged buildings in al-Aseela neighborhood near Aleppo's historic citadel, Sept. 13, 2013.
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen, a Syrian protester chants slogans during a demonstration in Arbeen, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 13, 2013.

Challenges

“There is no doubt whether in the north or other regions of the country where the opposition groups are strongly present it is the multiplicity of groups that makes the dialog challenging,” he said.

“Because to understand who is who, who to talk to, who can provide you guarantees that when your convoy goes through a given region that it is respected, this is the challenge,” said Kraehenbuehl.

The Assad government has had “a rather constraining and limiting attitude” toward aid workers, since the fighting began in early 2011, according to Kraehenbuehl.

Syrian officials, invoking security concerns, this month again refused a greenlight for access the old city of Homs, where several thousand people are believed to have been stranded for months, he said.

“The issue of our access to Homs old city is currently unresolved, despite agreements that we had been able to negotiate this time locally with all actors, there was a central red light that was given,” he said. “It's not the only place.”

WFP has recorded nearly 50 incidents of theft of supplies or confiscation of food trucks by armed groups this year, said the U.N. Spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs.

A WFP warehouse in the countryside outside Damascus caught fire this week after being hit by three mortar bombs, she said.

“We call upon all parties of the conflict to allow the safe passage of food to the families that live month to month on WFP's food rations,” Byrs told a news briefing.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs