UN starts aid airlifts to Syria; toddler dies in Lebanon tent fire

December 16, 2013 - 7:46:40 am

BAGHDAD: The United Nations sent its first delivery of humanitarian aid by air to Syria from Iraq yesterday and said it plans to deliver more food and winter supplies to the mainly Kurdish northeast in the next 12 days.

The first cargo plane carrying food took off from Arbil in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region and will make a one-hour flight to Hassakeh in Syria. The food supplies over the next 12 days should be able to feed more than 6,000 Syrian families for the rest of December, the UN’s World Food Programme said. This is the third winter since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011.

The airlifts were delayed from last week because of a storm which swept across Syria and Lebanon, bringing with it high winds and freezing temperatures. Cold, dry winds whipped the Tarmac at Arbil airport before takeoff. “This wave of extreme cold led to deteriorating conditions for people in the city of Qamishli and other places in Syria,” Iyad Nuaman, WFP regional coordinator, told Reuters by telephone from Arbil.

“Regions of eastern Syria are suffering more than others because they are far from the capital and there were problems with the delivery of food supplies,” he said. Both governments gave permission for the aid flights which will also include supplies of non-food items such as blankets, clothes and medicine in the coming days.

The 12-day airlift, involving various UN agencies, will include 400 tonnes of food and 196 kg of medical kits. UN agencies have ferried limited aid supplies into Syria from Iraq and Lebanon, but not via Turkey because of objections from President Bashar Al Assad’s government.

Meanwhile, a Syrian toddler died yesterday when a fire ripped through the family tent in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon, a security official said.

“Mahmud Al Arfan, who was 18 months old, was burned alive when the tent where his family lived caught fire,” the official said on condition of anonymity, adding his death had been confirmed.

Thirty-six people, nearly half of them children, were killed on Sunday when Syrian army helicopters dropped improvised “barrel bombs” on the disputed northern city of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.Agencies

 

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