Syrian regime blocks aid deliveries to besieged areas

Local sources say Syrian regime continues to block aid deliveries to besieged areas despite cessation deal

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

A Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid convoy heads towards the villages of al Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province, Syria March 17, 2016.

The Assad regime is violating the humanitarian aspect of Syria’s cessation of hostilities agreement by blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged areas.

Since the agreement came into effect late last month, humanitarian assistance - dispatched by the UN - has been successfully delivered to Muaddamiyah, Zabadani and Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, along with Fua and Qafraya in Idlib province.

The cessation-of-hostilities deal, which is supported by both Washington and Moscow, came into effect on Feb. 27 with the understanding that humanitarian assistance would be allowed into civilian areas.

Humanitarian aid, however, has yet to reach the Yarmouk refugee camp, along with Darayya, Jayrud, Ruhaybah, Kanaker, Tadamun and Hajar al Aswad - all located near capital Damascus.

On Tuesday, trucks laden with aid are expected to reach Homs, where regime forces have previously blocked humanitarian convoys, according to local sources.

On March 17, Jan Egeland, an advisor to the UN’s special envoy to Syria, said the world body had still not received permission from the regime to enter six out of 18 besieged areas.

According to local sources, the northern city of Rastan in Homs province has gone without aid for the past seven months, leading to severe bread shortages.

Meanwhile, in the town of Houla in northern Homs, basic foodstuffs (sugar, rice, eggs, etc.) can only be purchased at extremely high prices, as oil and wheat have all but disappeared from the market.

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.

Stealing aid

Some local sources say that humanitarian assistance is being stolen in some cases, while also warning of an acute shortage of medical equipment.

According to Hossam Madayi, a member of a local committee in Madaya (a town in the Rif Damashq province), regime forces had pilfered humanitarian aid that had been sent to the town.

On March 3, UN spokesman Farhan Haq complained that the Syrian regime had consistently blocked the delivery of aid to certain parts of the war-torn country.

According to the UN World Food Programme, roughly 485,000 people in 18 besieged areas of Syria - the most notable of which is Madaya - face rapidly deteriorating conditions due to the lack of humanitarian assistance.

Those 18 besieged areas are: Madaya, Muaddamiyah, Eastern Ghouta, the Yarmouk refugee camp, Zabadani, Jayrud, Kanakir, Tadamun, Hajar al Aswad and Darayya (all in Damascus); Talbiseh, Rastan, Houla and Vaer (in Homs); Fua and Qafraya (in Idlib); and the centre of Deir al Zour province.

TRTWorld, AA