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The New Arab

Aid 'only delivered to Assad supporters' in rural Damascus

Local media activists filmed the distribution of aid to the east of Moadamiyeh [twitter]

Date of publication: 4 February, 2016

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The Red Crescent and the UN in Moadamiyeh has been accused of delivering aid only to Assad supporters, as residents in the nearby town of al-Tall complain of insufficient help.

Moadamiyeh, a Damascus suburb that has been under total siege by regime forces since Christmas, received a much-needed delivery of aid materials on Wednesday.

Locals here had been cut off since the last remaining road to the city was closed on December 25.

Since then, dozens of residents, including a new-born baby, have died of starvation.

But the local opposition council has accused the UN and the Syrian Red Crescent of prioritising Assad supporters when distributing aid.

When the convoy reached Moadamiyeh, it reportedly did not distribute rations at the town hall in the besieged area, as the opposition had asked, but went instead straight to the city's eastern neighbourhood - controlled by regime forces, and where residents largely support the regime.

Facing starvation, residents of Moadamiyeh made the 2.5km trip to the eastern district to collect food cans, and were reportedly faced with a barrage of insults and abuse from regime loyalists.

The aid convoy was only permitted to enter the town after the regime's approval was won.

Read more: Aid reaches al-Mleiha, a Syrian town cut off by fighting



Opposition demands

The city has a population of around 45,000 - including 20,000 children - and the hospital is filling with dozens of youngsters suffering from malnutrition.

"We the citizens of Moadmiyeh al-Shaam, through the local council, demand that the UN and other international aid organisations enter the city through the town hall building and fulfill their legal and humanitarian responsibility to the residents," read an opposition statement.

The statement warned of a "humanitarian disaster" if international aid agencies continued to "ignore the voices coming from the city where tens of residents are suffering in the field hospital".

Activists in the area previously told The New Arab that the last aid convoy to enter in 2014 also went only to Assad supporters, and have repeatedly accused the UN of failing to deliver help.

In other developments in the city, local reports say the road separating the area from nearby opposition-controlled Darayya has finally been severed, again leaving the city isolated.

Activists fear this may foreshadow a surrender to the regime, or what the UN terms a "local ceasefire", as the regime - backed by Russian air raids - intensifies its military campaign on opposition-held areas of Aleppo, Latakia and rural Damascus, displacing thousands of people.

Breaking the siege

Meanwhile on Tuesday, an aid convoy was permitted to enter the city of al-Tall, located west of Eastern Ghouta, which has laboured under a regime-imposed siege since June 2015.

Opposition activists in the area have also accused the regime and the Red Crescent for failing to deliver on their promises.

"The Governor of Damascus promised to introduce relief materials into all rural areas of Damascus and promised to introduce 2,500 food baskets into the city in the near future," said Samer Tali, a local media activist.

However, according to a statement from the local opposition, the fourteen aid trucks sent to the area were mostly empty, with the total amount of aid enough to fill only one truck and a half.  

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