First aid convoy since 2012 enters two besieged towns in Syria

Sunday 26/06/2016
More than 500,000 people are living in 18 besieged areas in Syria

DAMASCUS - A convoy of food and medicine entered two besieged Syrian towns near Damascus on Wednesday, the first aid delivered to them since 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

The towns of Zamalka and Erbin were the last besieged areas in Syria to receive humanitarian aid, after the UN delivered assistance to the other 16 earlier this year.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was delivering 37 trucks of aid in partnership with the United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

The convoy includes food parcels, wheat flower, and hygiene kits for the 20,000 people living in both towns.

The UN says there are 592,000 people living in 18 besieged areas in Syria.

Most of them, like the residents of Zamalka and Erbin, are surrounded by government loyalists.

"This is a remarkable day, because for the first time, we will be able to get a joint convoy" into Zamalka and Erbin, said the UN's top humanitarian coordinator in Syria Yaacoub El Hillo.

He spoke to journalists moments before the convoy began entering the towns.

"Since the beginning of the year, UN agencies, the ICRC, and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have been able to get aid to every besieged area in Syria," Hillo said.

More than 280,000 people have died since Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011 with anti-government protests.