13 aid-filled trucks offloaded in Douma despite fighting close to convoy, Red Cross says
By Fatih Erel
An aid convoy, which failed to deliver humanitarian supplies to Syria’s besieged Eastern Ghouta last week due to violence, delivered “urgently needed” aid on Friday despite fighting which took place extremely close to the convoy, the Red Cross said.
The convoy of 13 trucks delivered 2,400 food parcels that can sustain 12,000 people for one month, as well as 3,248 wheat flour bags, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement.
On March 5, the UN failed to unload 14 out of 46 trucks bringing humanitarian aid to the besieged region due to escalating violence.
“We were taken aback by the fighting that broke out despite guarantees from the parties involved in this conflict that humanitarians could enter Douma, in Eastern Ghouta,” ICRC’s Regional Director for the Near and Middle East, Robert Mardini said.
“As more aid is needed in the coming days, it is absolutely critical that these assurances be renewed and respected in the future. Aid workers should not have to risk their lives to deliver assistance. The security of humanitarian workers, as well as that of civilians, must be guaranteed at all times,” Mardini said.
On Feb. 24, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401, which calls for a month-long ceasefire in Syria — especially Eastern Ghouta — to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Three days later, Russia announced its own ceasefire initiative calling for daily, five-hour “humanitarian pauses” in Eastern Ghouta.
A suburb of Damascus, Eastern Ghouta — home to roughly 400,000 people — has remained the target of a crippling regime siege for the last five years.
Within the last eight months, the regime has stepped up the siege, preventing food and medicine from entering the district and leaving thousands of residents in need of medical treatment.
On Thursday, a UN commission of inquiry released a report accusing the Assad regime of committing war crimes in Eastern Ghouta, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians, causing mass starvation and preventing medical evacuations.
Within the last 18 days alone, more than 881 civilians in the embattled district have reportedly been killed in attacks by the regime and its allies.