UN airdrops aid to besieged Syrian city for first time

United Nations World Food Program drops 21 tonnes of aid into eastern Syrian DAESH-besieged city of Deir al-Zor for first time

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

A crowd waits on the edge of a buffer zone that was created in preparation for the distribution of food aid in the besieged town of Moadamiyeh, Syria.

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) on Wednesday performed its first airdrop of desperately needed aid to the besieged Syrian city of Deir al-Zor, the UN's relief chief Stephen O'Brien has announced.

"Earlier this morning, a WFP plane dropped the first cargo of 21 tonnes [21,000 kilograms] of items into Deir Ezzor," O'Brien said in a Security Council briefing on the situation in Syria.

O'Brien said the agency received initial reports that packages of aid had landed in the target area as planned, but a UN spokesman later suggested it was not yet clear whether the aid reached its intended recipients.

"As you know, the airdrops can be very, very challenging," spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

"They're trying to reach local partners to see exactly and to ensure that the aid was received." 

Some 200,000 people are estimated to be under siege by DAESH terrorists in the eastern city.

According to the UN up to 4.5 million people in Syria live in hard-to-reach areas, including nearly 400,000 people in 15 besieged locations who do not have access to aid they urgently need.

Truce in Syria

The United States and Russia are discussing a new UN resolution that would strongly back the cessation of hostilities in Syria.

The truce, proposed by Russia and US, is to go into effect at midnight local time on Friday.

Gennady Gatilov told reporters on Wednesday that "it would be good" if Moscow and Washington agreed on the text of the Russian-proposed resolution by Thursday. That would enable the UN Security Council to vote on the resolution on Friday.

US officials have said that a cessation of hostilities is already enshrined in a UN resolution adopted unanimously in December endorsing a peace process for Syria. However, they say they are not necessarily opposed to another one.

A new resolution would also reportedly ask 18 key nations on both sides of the five-year-long Syrian conflict which agreed on the peace process to support the implementation of the new ceasefire.

The UN says more than 400,000 Syrians live in besieged areas with little or no access to basic supplies. The civil war in Syria has claimed more than 470,000 lives so far, according to recent estimates.

TRTWorld and agencies