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Aid to enter blockaded Darayya for first time since 2012, no food included

AMMAN: Aid is due to enter the city of Darayya […]

12 May 2016

AMMAN: Aid is due to enter the city of Darayya on Thursday for the first time since Syrian regime forces encircled the rebel-held south Damascus suburb three and a half years ago, with waiting residents criticizing the reported absence of food in the shipment, telling Syria Direct that “they’ve given us medicine and left us to starve.”

The Local Council of Darayya announced “unofficial news regarding the delivery of pharmaceutical aid” in an online statement Wednesday, adding that food would not be included.

“In spite of its importance, pharmaceutical aid will not be sufficient to solve the ongoing humanitarian crisis for more than 8,000 civilians trapped in their city,” read the statement.

“Medicine on an empty stomach doesn’t help me…bring me food, then medicine,” reads a sign held by a Darayya child waiting to receive Thursday’s aid convoy. Photo courtesy of Karam a-Shami.

“Hundreds of Darayya residents gathered this morning to express their anger at the lack of food aid,” Karam a-Shami, a spokesman for city’s local council told Syria Direct on Thursday. “They’re asking why there’s only medical aid.”

“We see this as a breakthrough, but not a success,” International Committee of the Red Cross spokesman Pawel Krzysiek told Middle East Eye on Thursday. The ICRC, United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent are due to deliver five trucks of non-food aid, consisting of baby milk, medical supplies and school materials, the site reported.

Darayya children awaiting the convoy on Thursday held up signs saying “I can’t eat medicine” and “medicine on an empty stomach doesn’t help me,” in photos posted online by Darayya’s Local Council.

While the Assad regime has permitted aid deliveries to multiple besieged areas across Syria in the past two months, none has come to Darayya, currently controlled by Free Syrian Army affiliate Liwa Shuhada al-Islam and Ajnad a-Sham, an Islamist brigade.

A UN delegation visited Darayya nearly one month ago to assess the city’s needs.

“I can’t eat medicine.” Photo courtesy of Local Council of Daraya City.

By afternoon on Thursday, most residents who gathered to greet the aid convoy had returned to their homes, a-Shami told Syria Direct, “because of the delay in the aid delivery and the heat in the streets.” As of publication, the convoy had not entered Darayya.

One of those still waiting for the aid to arrive is Um Qais, a 38-year-old mother of three children. “I’ve been waiting for the aid convoys since this morning,” Um Qais told Syria Direct. “I want to tell them that they’re mocking us and our children with this aid. It’s just to shut us up; they’ve given us medicine and left us to starve.”

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