An ISIL advance on Deirez-Zor that started on 15 January has effectively cut the besieged enclave in two as of 17 January, and resulted in the death and injury of scores of civilians
The areas of Deir-ez-Zor under the control of the government of Syria, in which some 93,500 live, have been besieged by ISIL since July 2014, depriving people from regular access to food, medicines and other essentials.
Given the siege by ISIL, humanitarian actors have had to deliver assistance through high altitude air drops, with WFP completing more than 177 airdrops over the besieged city Deir-ez-Zor since April 2016.
No airdrops have taken place since 15 January, after ISIL took control of the drop-zone which is located three kilometers west of the airport.
93,500 people deprived from regular access to food and medicines
6,000 people in east Deir-ez-Zor are running out of bread and food supplies in east Deir-ez-Zor
At least 30 people in need of urgent medical care they cannot receive inside east Deir-ez-Zor
177 Airdrops of humanitarian assistance conducted into Deir-ez-Zor since April 2016
The area of Deir-ez-Zor under GoS control has been besieged by ISIL since July 2014, depriving up to 93,500 people from regular access to food and medicines. WFP has completed more than 177 airdrops over Deirez-Zor since April 2016. The humanitarian airdrops had previously been collected by SARC staff who were also in charge of the distribution of the collected items.
Since 15 January, an ISIL offensive on the government-controlled parts of Deir-ez-Zor has led to the besieged enclave being cut in two, with the airport and two eastern neighborhoods (Harabesh and Alrasafa) populated by an estimated 1,250 families cut from the western neighborhoods, where the bulk of the city’s population live.
WFP airdrops into Deir-ez-Zor could not take place since 15 January, as the drop-zone is now under ISIL control. As airdrops require a large and completely safe drop zone area where cargo is released and collected by a team on the ground for delivery, airdrops will have to remain on hold until the security situation improves, or a viable alternative drop-zone is identified. WFP is currently in the process of identifying a new drop-off zone in the north of Deir-ez-Zor city and hopes that airdrops can resume by 26 January. SARC temporarily suspended all distributions of humanitarian assistance on 17 January due to mortar shells hitting areas in proximity of the distribution point, although operations resumed on 19 January.
Continued fighting has affected service delivery inside the besieged enclaves. For example, Al Assad National Hospital in Deir-ez-Zor temporarily went out of service due to the clashes in the area. The hospital has since resumed services, and some critical medical cases have been airlifted to Qamishli Hospital via helicopter.
Inside Deir-ez-Zor city generators are the only source of electricity, however, fuel is scarce and therefore generators are only being used to supply civilian infrastructure with electricity, such as hospitals and bakeries. Generally speaking, there are two sources of fuel, the fuel received via airdrops or via local refining through the distillation of crude oil, yet only in very limited quantities. Water had previously been pumped to Deir-ez-Zor once per week, however, this practice is likely to be affected by the lack of fuel.
Bakeries in the western part of Deir-ez-Zor are still in service, and continue to provide bread albeit at limited capacity. WFP additionally has stocks inside the eastern part of Deir-ez-Zor, including pulses, sugar, salt and oil, in quantities sufficient for 40,000 people for one months. WFP is additionally carrying out a food security assessment for the area.
In the two eastern neighborhoods cut-off from the rest of the city, there is one functional bakery that can technically cover the needs of the estimated 1,200 families (6,000 people) living there. However, the area risks running out of fuel and wheat flour, and already on 19 January no bread had been delivered.
The GoS and its allies are using helicopters departing from Quamishli Airport to deliver some medical supplies, bread and canned food into the besieged enclave. There are more than 30 injured people in need of urgent medical care inside Harabesh and Alrasafa neighborhoods who cannot access the medical care they require inside besieged east Deir-ez-Zor .
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.