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Syria's besieged Daraya receives first aid in four years Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Syria's besieged Daraya receives first aid in four years

Red Cross aid trucks deliver humanitarian aid to Daraya [ICRC/ Twitter]

Date of publication: 1 June, 2016

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The besieged Damascus suburb of Daraya has received its first humanitarian aid since November 2012, after a previous attempt blocked by regime forces left two civilians dead.
A humanitarian aid convoy has entered Daraya for the first time since the town was put under siege by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The rebel-held town has been suffering from a severe shortage of food, water and medicine. The United Nations said last month it would begin air drops – which are notoriously inefficient – by June 1 if access to besieged areas did not improve.

The desperately needed aid is being allowed to get through to the town after a 48-hour ceasefire was established on Wednesday.

The items being delivered include food, vaccines, baby milk and medicine, according to the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA].

The last attempt to deliver aid to Daraya in May was blocked by government forces, despite a prior agreement from all sides.

Mortar shelling by government forces left a father and son dead and at least five others injured, as they waited for the aid convoys to arrive.

"The Syrian government’s refusal to allow sorely needed humanitarian aid convoy into the town is a cruel reality check of the suffering of thousands of civilians besieged there since 2012," Amnesty International said at the time.

Daraya had a pre-war population of around 80,000 people but that has dropped by almost 90 percent, with remaining residents suffering from severe shortages and malnutrition.

The UN reported in April that at least 4,000 people were besieged in Daraya by forces loyal to President Assad.

The town's electricity supply was also cut off more than three years ago.

A February report by the Netherlands-based aid group PAX and the Washington-based Syria Institute found that 1.09 million people are living in 46 besieged communities in Syria, far more than the 18 listed by the UN.

It said most are under siege by the Syrian government in the suburbs of Damascus, the capital, and Homs.

This latest delivery was an effort coordinated by the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent.

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