26 April 2016
One hundred trucks have delivered aid to tens of thousands of people in a besieged Syrian town.
Food, medical supplies and clean water materials were delivered to residents of Al Rastan, near Homs, over two days.
The first distribution took place on Thursday, while a second was completed yesterday (Monday).
Both operations were carried out jointly by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the United Nations.
Al Rastan has seen heavy fighting over the past four years.
“You feel the sense of urgency here,” said ICRC spokesman Pawel Krzysiek. “Rastan is one of the besieged areas that have not been accessed for a very, very long time with humanitarian supplies.”
Sixty-five trucks reached the town last week. A further 35 trucks arrived yesterday. The aid was destined for around 120,000 people.
“The people have suffered terribly,” said Majda Flihi, who led the ICRC team into Al Rastan.
“Peoples' livelihoods, especially farming and raising livestock, have been severely affected. Damage to the town's irrigation infrastructure has made the situation even worse.”
Items delivered include: food parcels, medicine, delivery-kits for expectant mothers and wheelchairs.
Water treatment materials, water tanks, pumps and generators to ensure the supply of clean water to the population were also delivered.
Around half a million people are living in besieged areas within Syria. Food, medical supplies and clean water are in desperately short supply.
Ted Tuthill, who heads British Red Cross work in the region, said regular humanitarian access needs to continue.
“When you hear the stories from our teams on the ground it’s clear that the suffering is intense and people’s needs enormous,” said Tuthill.
“But gaining access to besieged communities, such as Al Rastan, has to be negotiated. This takes time and is hugely challenging.
“While these deliveries are welcome news, they need to continue. Aid agencies must be given safe and unimpeded access by all sides involved in the conflict.”