UN: Syrian regime rejects medical items for Eastern Ghouta
The UN could not offload 14 of 46 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies on Monday in besieged Eastern Ghouta due to escalating violence, the UN said on Tuesday.
The Syrian regime also rejected the delivery of 70 percent of medical supplies and removed from aid convoy, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
"Yesterday, the UN and partners mission to deliver assistance to Douma in besieged eastern Ghouta was forced to be cut short due to escalating violence[...]," UN Office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesman (OCHA) Jens Laerke said in a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday.
Indicating that after nearly nine hours inside Eastern Ghouta, the decision was made to leave the town for security reasons, Laerke said: "14 of 46 trucks in the convoy were not able to fully offload critical humanitarian supplies. Of the 14, four were partially offloaded."
"Airstrikes and shelling in Douma and the shelling of Damascus continued for hours while the inter-agency convoy was delivering food for 27,500 people, in addition to health and nutrition supplies," he said.
"The team found a desperate situation for people who have endured months of lack of access to humanitarian aid. Food for civilians was in short supply or prohibitively expensive and high rates of acute malnutrition were observed," Laerke said.
Noting there was not enough time to offload all the trucks, Laerke said the convoy could enter Eastern Ghouta again on Thursday if the security situation improves.
"The UN and partners continue to be ready to deliver the second part of aid to Douma on March 8, as planned, should the conditions allow it. All security measures must be guaranteed in order for this to happen," Laerke said.
"The UN condemns, in the strongest terms possible, the lack of respect for the cessation of hostilities, and the disregard of armed parties for guarantees of safe passage for the convoy," Laerke said.
World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said in a news conference that the WHO had delivered medical supplies on Monday in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, but around 70 percent of medical supplies including mental health medicine were rejected and removed from the trucks by health authorities of the Syrian regime.
The WHO receive no justification from Syrian authorities about the removal, Jasarevic said.
Eastern Ghouta, a Damascus suburb, has been under siege for the last five years and humanitarian access to the area, which is home to some 400,000 people, has been completely cut off.
In the past eight months, forces of the Bashar al-Assad regime have intensified their siege of Eastern Ghouta, making it nearly impossible for food or medicine to get into the district and leaving thousands of patients in need of treatment.
On Feb. 24, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling for a 30-day cease-fire in Syria without delay.