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Life-saving humanitarian aid reaches five besieged towns in Syria - UN

17 February 2016 – As United Nations relief wing convoys reached five besieged towns in Syria with aid today, the Office of the UN Special Envoy for the country announced that a task force will meet for a second time tomorrow to discuss humanitarian access issues.

"Today, we reached five besieged towns in urgent need of humanitarian assistance," the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria, Yacoub el-Hillo, said in a press release. "The convoys contained life-saving aid including food, medical supplies and equipment, vaccines, water and sanitation items for almost 100,000 people in need of aid."

Praising the courage of dedicated staff on the ground, Jan Egeland Senior Advisor to UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura said "brave humanitarian workers" were able to deliver 100 truckloads. "This is hopefully the beginning of the end of Syrian civilians' suffering," he added.

Tomorrow's meeting will be held at UN headquarters in Geneva and co-chaired by Mr. de Mistura and Mr. Egeland. Representatives of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), comprising the Arab League, the European Union, the United Nations, and 17 countries are expected to attend.

"Humanitarian delivery is not only important, it is essential," de Mistura stressed. "There are now more than 400,000 people living in areas besieged by the Government, by the opposition and by Daesh."

According to the UN, the purpose of this second meeting is to "further take stock of the status of humanitarian access to besieged areas with an initial focus on the locations referred to in the statement of the International Syria Support Group last week."

Last Thursday in Munich, the Group called for "sustained delivery of assistance" to begin in seven besieged areas inside Syria, including the town of Madaya, which drew worldwide attention recently after UN and Red Cross workers reported people starving to death or being killed trying to flee.

"Humanitarian access to these areas will be a first step towards full, sustained, and unimpeded access throughout the country, as demanded by Security Council resolutions, the ISSG and international humanitarian law," the Office of the UN Envoy underlined.

Mr. de Mistura also referred to today's aid distributions as a "test for the capability of the UN to deliver humanitarian assistance and for all parties on the ground to allow this to take place, as per the decisions reached last week in Munich."

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