Aid convoys arranged by local and international organisations have finally reached three besieged towns in Syria, where thousands of people, including women and children, are trapped and some have died of starvation.The convoys are part of a deal between the government and rebels to let urgent supplies of food and medicine into besieged areas.
Trucks arrived first at the rebel-held town of Madaya, located west of Damascus and near the Lebanese border. It has been under siege by government forces and Hezbollah fighters since July, and people living in the town have been forced to eat leaves and grass to try to stay alive.
Aid convoys later reached two other towns besieged by rebels in Idlib province, Foua and Kefraya.
The World Food Programme said the aid carried on the Madaya convoy will meet the needs of 40,000 people for one month.
Abou Ammar, a media activist in the town, said local aid organisations had been waiting since early morning for supplies to arrive.
“We have all been eagerly waiting since 5am. The situation here is getting worse and it’s about time this operation goes through,” he told Al Jazeera over the phone.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said the first trucks arrived in a convoy of 49 vehicles.
“The first four trucks, carrying essentials including blankets and food packages of rice, oil and lentils were allowed into the town, where volunteers began unloading them in the dark, watched by groups of hungry people, including children,” the agency said.
The operation to distribute aid was expected to take a few days, the spokesperson for the Red Cross delegation in Syria, Marianne Gasser, said.
“This is a very positive development. But it must not be just a one-off distribution. To relieve the suffering of these tens of thousands of people, there has to be regular access to these areas,” she said.
One person died due to starvation just hours before the convoys arrived, adding to reports of dozens of deaths related to hunger. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have said that at least 28 people, including six babies under one year of age, have died from hunger-related causes in Madaya.
- Give thanks that the convoys of aid have finally reached these besieged towns.
- Pray that the siege of thee towns will be lifted, and more aid convoys allowed through, to bring full relief to the people living there.
- Pray for protection on the aid convoys, amid reports that some of the trucks have been looted or prevented from getting through.
- Pray for peace in Syria, for an end to the conflict that has devastated so many innocent lives.
- Pray that many in Syria will come to know Jesus, the source of life, and hope.
Isaiah 58 vs 10: “if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.”