Global News

UN aid 'to reach all besieged Syria areas within a week'

UN aid 'to reach all besieged Syria areas within a week'

Jan Egeland, the head of the United Nations task force on humanitarian access to Syria, said the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) had a "concrete plan" for using airdrops to get food to the city of Deir ez-Zor, where 200,000 people surrounded by Islamic State militants are enduring severe food shortages and rapidly deteriorating conditions.

The UN says more than 400,000 Syrians live in besieged areas with little or no access to basic supplies amid a civil war that has claimed more than 250,000 lives. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric and a Russian UN representative said the World Food Program is using a Russian civilian aviation contractor which the organization had previously worked with in South Sudan for the air drops.

She did not specify when the air drops would begin but said a single aircraft would be used initially.

The UK government also said air drops were "high risk and should only be considered as a last resort when all other means have failed". "Airdrops are a desperate measure in desperate times".

We discussed the next phase, which is to reach all of the remaining besieged areas of Syria and we should be able to do so before the next meeting, which will be in a week, he informed the press in his capacity as co-chair of the task force on humanitarian access established by the ISSG.

Last week, members of the International Syria Support Group agreed to a cessation of hostilities to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to the besieged Syrian towns and areas.

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It was unclear if the Syrian government would allow such flights over Aleppo or close to Damascus, areas where its air force and Russian jets are operating.

There have been several aid deliveries to Madaya and Zabadani and to al-Foua and Kefraya this year, but each has to be carefully synchronized between the warring sides so that convoys enter simultaneously.

Over four million others are living in what the United Nations defines as "hard-to-reach" areas.

Moscow hopes that agreements on a ceasefire in Syria will be reached on Friday, Interfax news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying on Thursday.

"The people of Syria ... have waited too long for relief", Egeland told reporters following the meeting in Geneva.


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