UN: Syrian Government Blocking Humanitarian Aid
by Lisa Schlein April 14, 2016
A U.N. body set up to monitor the delivery of humanitarian assistance to besieged and hard-to-reach areas in Syria accuses the government of Bashar al-Assad of continuing to hamper the delivery of desperately needed aid.
U.N. Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, says all members of the U.N. Humanitarian Access Task Force are disappointed and frustrated by the lack of improvement in the delivery of aid to hundreds of thousands of Syrians.
He considers it unacceptable aid is not reaching people deprived of food and other relief for many months. He says the one bright spot is that air drops of food supplies into the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor are occurring smoothly.
He says the World Food Program has successfully conducted three technically difficult operations this week. The last one Thursday, when 26 pallets of food were air-dropped into the Islamic State stronghold, a region that remains off-limits by road.
"The next airdrops are also likely to include, not only food items, but medical items, which are very much needed in the area. So far, 55 tons have been airdropped by the World Food Program airplane. This is quite encouraging," he said.
De Mistura says he believes an important national vaccination campaign will go ahead on April 24. He says he raised this issue with the Syrian authorities he met in Damascus, urging them not to delay this operation.
"That would have been very bad because the Syrian people need to see for their own children, wherever they are the possibility of having this campaign of vaccination in view of the reduction of the coverage and on the fact that, regardless of what we have been hearing in terms of tense moments in some parts of the country, the cessation of hostilities is still holding and, therefore, should be allowing vaccination and, therefore, no excuse for not doing it," he said.
A third round of indirect Intra-Syrian peace talks began Wednesday. U.N. envoy de Mistura says he plans to hold substantive discussions with government and opposition delegations aiming at a political transition.
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