UN says aid convoy reaches Syria's Madaya, urges access to besieged areas

Updated: 2016-01-12 09:56


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UN says aid convoy reaches Syria's Madaya, urges access to besieged areas

People gather on the street in the town of Madaya, north of the capital Damascus, Syria, Jan 11, 2016. Trucks carrying relief aid started entering three besieged Syrian towns on Monday as part of a deal concluded recently between the government and rebels to alleviate the suffering of thousands of starved people. [Photo/Xinhua]

UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations relief wing said on Monday that the inter-agency humanitarian convoy carrying life-saving items have reached the town of Madaya in Syria, while calling on parties to the conflict to facilitate unimpeded access to all people in besieged areas.

The first trucks of the convoy are offloading health, nutrition and food supplies; at the same time, trucks left Damascus for Kafraya and Foah, two other towns also in desperate need of aid, according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Yacoub el Hillo, UN humanitarian coordinator in Syria, called on all parties to the conflict to facilitate sustained and unimpeded access to about 4.5 million people living in besieged and hard-to-reach areas across Syria, UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told a daily briefing.

Rebels against the Syrian government are in control of Madaya, north of the capital Damascus. More than 40,000 people are trapped in the town due to the government siege which is similar to what the rebels in Idlib have done to Kafraya and Foah, two Shiite towns loyal to the government.

Last week, the Syrian government has agreed to allow in a aid convoy to Madaya. The rebels besieging Kafraya and Foah have also agreed to the entry of food convoys to the two towns.

According to the United Nations, it has received credible reports of people dying from starvation or being killed while trying to leave. The ongoing Syrian conflict continues to hamper the humanitarian response, while freedom of movement is restricted by the presence of armed actors and landmines.

Dujarric also said that the Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura concluded his current round of regional consultations on Sunday with meetings in Tehran, Iran to facilitate the holding of the Geneva talks for political resolution of the current conflict.

"He looks forward to the International Syria Support Group and the Security Council continuing to provide serious and consistent engagement, in order to ensure the beginning, on Jan. 25, of genuine political discussions aimed at resolving the Syrian crisis," said Dujarric.

Geneva has been the venue for two previous rounds of the UN-mediated Syria peace talks between representatives of the Syrian government and opposition, but the talks have failed to yield any significant results.

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