MOADAMIYEH, Syrian Arab Republic, March 1 (UNHCR) – A convoy of 51 trucks carrying urgently needed UNHCR and UNICEF supplies including blankets, tarpaulins and hygiene items last night entered the besieged town of Moadamiyeh – the first such convoy since a cessation of hostilities last week.
The aid brought by the UN Refugee Agency and several sister agencies, arrived on Monday (February 29) in the town, some 10 kilometres southwest of the capital Damascus, where residents are living without running water, electricity and medicine.
The convoy, the first since the announcement of a cessation of hostilities on February 27, delivered supplies to six different locations in the town, and will benefit some 8,500 families, including many vulnerable old people and children, UNHCR's representative in Syria, Sajjad Malik, said.
"The cessation of hostilities has provided hope to the Syrian people," said Malik, who led the convoy and met with local residents as the aid was off-loaded. "We should have regular and sustained access to bring humanitarian assistance to all areas, including besieged and hard to reach areas," he added.
Moadamiyeh is one of 18 besieged communities in Syria that are cut off from humanitarian assistance. The convoy, which followed previous aid deliveries to the town on February 17 and 23, also included teams from UNICEF, the UN Children's Fund, the World Food Program, World Health Organization, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the UN Department of Safety and Security, together with staff from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent or SARC.
The UNHCR staff who supervised and assisted in offloading the aid, an operation which lasted up to midnight, met with women, children and community elders, allowing them to get to know their situation and needs better.
Among those Malik chatted with was young Mohammed. The 10-year-old said the two nutritious biscuits he received at school were not enough to satisfy his hunger, and that his school does not have the basic facilities.
UNHCR protection staff also helped a 12-year-old boy, Mahmoud, who was bitten by a wild dog a few days earlier and had not received medical attention. With the help of SARC and in coordination with UNICEF the boy was subsequently evacuated to Damascus to receive medical attention.
One of the children, Yasser, aged 12, who chatted to UNHCR staff, was curious about life in the outside world. "I am really bored and wondering what is happening outside of the city. Are the children my age still going to the gardens and play grounds?"
More convoys will be organized in the coming days to other besieged areas.