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Food reaches Ghouta, Syria

October 30, 2017

Aid trucks with food for 40,000 Syrians have reached eastern Ghouta, a rebel area besieged by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces for four years. But activists say its hardly enough for 350,000 inhabitants.

Aid trucks reach Ghouta
Image: picture-alliance/ZUMAPRESS.com/A. Alkarbotle

Some 47 aid trucks sent by United Nations agencies and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent reached the besieged rebel enclave where, according to activists, at least 11 civilians were killed on Sunday during government shelling.

Last week, photos of gaunt children in eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus prompted UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein to describe the siege as "an outrage.”

Read more: indiscriminate attacks, say agencies

In May, Syria's government cut smuggling routes, including tunnels, to the rebel enclave, which had been one of the hubs of the 2011 uprising against Assad.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the trucks sent Monday had supplies for 40,000 people.

Cobar in eastern Ghouta was hit on September 29
Cobar in eastern Ghouta was hit on September 29Image: picture-alliance/abaca/A. Al-Bushy

'Stop the shelling'

Local activist Anas al-Dimashqi told Associated Press that Monday's relief deliveries were only sufficient for a few days.

Residents wanted "someone to break the blockade and stop the shelling.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 280 Ghouta inhabitants, among them children, badly need medical care in hospitals outside the besieged area.

Last week, the UN said at least 1,200 children were severely malnourished. Another 1,500 were endangered.

Measles vaccination

The Red Crescent announced meanwhile that it had completed a measles vaccination campaign for 48,000 children in eastern Ghouta.

The enclave. comprising settlements such as Kafrbatna and Saqba, has been targeted despite a truce announced in May as part of a de-escalation plan brokered by the Syrian regime's backers Russia, Turkey and Iran.

The aid deliveries Monday coincided with the resumption of a seventh round of Russian-sponsored talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana between Syria's government and rebels, aimed at freezing conflict and allowing aid to flow to an estimated million Syrians in need.

Syria's six-year civil war has displaced about half of its pre-war population of 22 million and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

ipj/jm (dpa, Reuters, AP)