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Updated On: Tuesday, November 21 2017

Raqqa Supply Route Aiding Civilians

Content by: South-South News

13 July 2017, New York, USA | South-South News — The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that the opening of the road from Aleppo to Menbij and Qamishli in Syria’s north-eastern Hassakeh governorate is making a big difference in delivering relief items including tents, blankets, jerry cans and other essentials to displaced people.

Speaking to journalists on July 11 in Geneva, UNHCR’s spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said, “UNHCR’s first convoy of three trucks reached Qamishli on June 29 and delivered relief including tents, blankets, jerry cans and other essentials for the thousands fleeing conflict in the area”. He added that “a second convoy arrived on July 4, a third reached its destination on 10 July, and a fourth convoy is on its way as we speak. A total of 22 trucks have been dispatched, 17 already reaching their destination.”

The road had been closed for nearly two years due to fierce conflict. Costly airlifts, with limited capacity, were the only ways to bring supplies into the area. With the number of people displaced from and within Raqqa governorate now having passed 190,000 since April 1, the opening of the road allows now for regular deliveries from warehouses in Damascus, Homs and Aleppo. UNHCR, UN agencies and partners can now reach a greater number of the estimated 430,000 people in need in battle-affected Raqqa governorate.

Mahecic said, “The UN estimates that between 30,000 and 50,000 people remain trapped in Raqqa city – although getting the precise numbers is difficult given the lack of access. Availability of food, water, medicine, electricity and other essentials has been dwindling, with the situation rapidly deteriorating. It is imperative that trapped civilians are able to secure safe passage out – to reach safety, shelter, and protection.”

UNHCR reminded again all parties to the conflict of their obligations to abide by international humanitarian law and to protect civilians who must never become targets.

Mahecic said, “Since April 1st the recent military operations begun, just since then we account for about 190, 000 people. Over the June alone 20, 000 people have left the city. We see a trend in which about a hundred to 200 families manage to get out of the city in some way, either by using smuggler routes, either by risking their lives during the combats, and essentially try to reach the safety, but on average it is about 100 -200 families every day.”

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