News / Middle East

    UNHCR Plans Syria Aid Airlift

    FILE - A female Kurdish fighter from Kurdish People's Protection Units checks her weapon near Ras al-Ain, in the Syrian province of Hassakeh, after capturing it from Islamist rebels on November 6, 2013.
    FILE - A female Kurdish fighter from Kurdish People's Protection Units checks her weapon near Ras al-Ain, in the Syrian province of Hassakeh, after capturing it from Islamist rebels on November 6, 2013.
    Reuters
    The United Nations' first relief airlift to Syria from Iraq will deliver food and winter supplies to the mostly Kurdish northeast over the next 10 days with the permission of both governments, U.N. aid agencies said on Tuesday.
     
    The airbridge, using Ilyushin-76 commercial cargo planes flying to Hassakeh from Erbil in northern Iraq, will begin on Thursday. Up to 12 flights are scheduled through Sunday, said Amin Awad, director of the U.N. refugee agency's Middle East and North Africa Bureau.
     
    Elisabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for the U.N.'s World Food Program (WFP), later said that it also planned 10 rotations over the next 10 days in an operation aimed at feeding more than 30,000 people for a month. Its first flight would carry 40 metric tons of food, including wheat flour, pasta, oil, sugar, salt, rice, canned beans and bulgur wheat, she said.
     
    U.N. agencies have ferried limited aid supplies into Syria from Iraq and Lebanon, but not via Turkey because of objections from President Bashar al-Assad's government.
     
    “This is the first time aid goes through Iraq,” Awad told Reuters in an interview in Geneva.
     
    Syria gave permission about two weeks ago for the cross-border U.N. operation from Iraq into Syrian Kurdish areas of Hassakeh province, which had initially envisaged truck convoys via the Yarubiya border crossing, a cheaper option, he said.
     
    “As the situation was very complicated, negotiating with many factions, we shifted to an airlift,” Awad said, noting that one main Kurdish group in the area was pro-Syrian government and the other pro-Turkish.
     
    The previously unannounced joint UNHCR-WFP operation had been long planned by land, a Western diplomat said. “They had trucks and were ready to move a week ago. It was supposed to be over this past weekend but it didn't happen,” he told Reuters.
     
    The cities of Hassakeh and Qamishli are to receive food and relief items as a harsh winter sets in, Awad said.
     
    “Out of reach for a long time”
     
    The total cargo of 285 metric tons to be brought in by the U.N. refugee agency will also include blankets, kitchen sets, plastic tarpaulins for shelter, sleeping mats, and jerry cans, UNHCR spokesman Dan McNorton said.
     
    “The number of vulnerable people in Hassakeh is estimated at 50,000-60,000 but we are still doing assessments. Hassakeh has been out of reach for a long time,” Awad said.
     
    Awad said the United Nations was still “lining up airlines that are willing to fly into that part of the country”.
     
    Well over 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Syria, which began with peaceful protests against Assad in March 2011. The UNHCR says about 6.5 million people have fled their homes within Syria and 2.3 million sought refuge abroad.
     
    “Winter is here. This is one of the harshest winters according to any forecast that you may get hold of, probably in the last 100 years,” Awad told a news briefing.
     
    Iraq's envoy to the U.N., Nickolay Mladenov, tweeted:
     
    “As zUNiraq and #Iraq agree humanitarian corridor to #Syria, I call on all to allow for the resupply to take place in an unobstructed manner.”

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora