UN plans aid for 154,000 besieged Syrians in next 5 days

United Nations and partner aid groups plan to supply aid to 154,000 people living in besieged areas in Syria within next five days

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

A convoy of trucks loaded with humanitarian supplies are seen heading to the besieged town of Madaya, some 24 kilometres in southwest Damascus, Syria, on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016.

Updated Feb 29, 2016

The United Nations prepared on Monday to deliver aid to thousands of besieged civilians in Syria as a fragile cessation of hostilities entered its third day largely intact despite accusations of violations.

UN humanitarian coordinator Yacoub El Hillo said the international body hoped to take advantage of the first major truce in five years of conflict to distribute supplies to an extra 154,000 people living in besieged areas over the next five days.

United Nations announced on Sunday that its partner aid organisations and itself plan to deliver life-saving aid to 154,000 Syrians in besieged areas in the following five days.

Pressure was building to relieve civilians under siege after the UN's human rights chief said thousands could die of hunger. "The deliberate starvation of people is unequivocally forbidden as a weapon of warfare. By extension, so are sieges," Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said, warning that "thousands of people risk starving to death".

The UN Resident Coordinator in Damascus Yacoub El Hillo said approval from parties involved in the conflict is pending. The organisation is ready to deliver aid to about 1.7 million people in hard-to-reach areas in the first quarter of 2016.

The UN estimates that there are almost 500,000 people living under siege, out of a total of 4.6 million, who are living in hard to reach areas, but it hopes that a cessation of hostilities that began on Friday night will bring an end to the 15 sieges.

"It is the best opportunity that the Syrian people have had over the last five years for lasting peace and stability," El Hillo said.

"But we all know that without a meaningful political process and a political solution, both cessation of hostilities and entry of humanitarian assistance will not be enough to end the crisis in Syria."

The UN hopes to deliver aid to Moadamiya on Monday, the "four towns" of Zabadani, Kufreya, Foua and Madaya on Wednesday, and Kafr Batna on Friday.

But the biggest single siege, of about 200,000 people in Deir Ezzor, is not affected by the cessation of hostilities because the besieging DAESH terrorists are excluded from the agreement.

The UN attempted an air drop there last week but high winds meant all 21 tonnes of food went off target or went missing or their parachutes failed to open and they were destroyed.

TRTWorld, Reuters