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A convoy of three trucks from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) using a newly opened land corridor has arrived in Qamishli in Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh governorate, carrying lifesaving food assistance for hungry families, the WFP said in a press statement. The aid will especially help newly displaced people from the city of Raqqa.
This is the first time that WFP has been able to deliver food by land in two years since the area became inaccessible in December 2015. Since that time, WFP has had to operate costly airlifts to bring food to vulnerable families.
The convoy delivered a month’s supply of food for 15,000 people through a road from Damascus to Manbij to Qamishli in Rojava-Northern Syria.
“This humanitarian breakthrough will allow us to increase regular support for all 250,000 people in need in Hasakeh, compared to the 190,000 people we were able to assist through airlifts,” said Jakob Kern, WFP Country Director and Representative in Syria. “Road deliveries are also far more cost-efficient.”
Overland access to Hasakeh was made possible due to an improved security situation. For almost a year, WFP has conducted two airlifts per day, six days a week to deliver food assistance and relief supplies for people who were otherwise cut off from support.
“Once regular land access to Hasakeh is established, WFP will gradually phase out of its current airlift operation,” Kern added.
Replacing the current airlift operation with land access to Hasakeh is expected to save an estimated US$19 million per year, which is enough to provide an additional 100,000 people with food assistance for one year.
The limited cargo capacity allowed by airlifts meant that only critical food items were prioritized for delivery. With the resumption of road deliveries, WFP will be able to send fortified date bars to resume its school meals programme.
WFP will also reintroduce wheat flour in monthly food rations that contain staple food items such as cooking oil, pasta and canned foods.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) the food delivery was approved by the Syrian government. The Syrian government approved it despite of recent tensions between the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian government near Raqqa.
“Following approval by the Government of Syria, WFP successfully completed a first trial delivery from Homs to Qamishly via Aleppo to assess the road conditions and the security situation along the route,” the OCHA said.
On 8 June, the Government of Syria granted approval to WFP to conduct deliveries of food and non-food items from Damascus to Qamishli, via Aleppo.
“Following the approval, on 16 June WFP successfully completed a first trial delivery to assess the road conditions and the security situation along the route, delivering 3,000 food rations (115.14 mt),” the OCHA said.
“Following the first successful trial, WFP will conduct a second delivery to Qamishli using the same route. Ten trucks were loaded on 17 June at a WFP warehouse in Homs with 11,500 food rations (441.255 mt). Following receipt of all necessary facilitation letters, the ten trucks are scheduled to depart from Homs on 19 June,” the OCHA added.
The aid will help thousands of IDPs that are hosted by the Syrian Kurdish self-administrations in northern Syria, including recent IDP flows from the Raqqa governorate.
Since April, 177,874 of people from the Raqqa governorate have been displaced. According to the UN there are still around 50,000 to 100,000 civilians in Raqqa, the majority of them have fled to camps controlled by the Kurdish-led self-administrations, while also some of them have fled to other ISIS-areas, or the Turkish-held zone in northern Aleppo.
WHO dispatched 10 tons of shipment of medicine and medical supplies to Al-Hassakeh Department of Health, in coordination with UNHCR; 8 tons to Al-Qamishli national hospital; 6 tons to Mabrouka, Ein Issa, Al-Karama camps at Al-Raqqa.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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