UN food aid reaches besieged Syrian city of Deir Ezzor by air

ROME, Italy, 11th April, 2016 (WAM) — In a boost to international humanitarian efforts in Syria, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today delivered aid by air for hungry people trapped in the besieged eastern city of Deir Ezzor.

WFP food assistance has reached besieged parts of the city for the first time since March 2014. A total of 20 metric tons of urgently needed food supplies – mainly beans, chickpeas and rice, and enough to feed 2,500 people for one month – were dropped from high altitude by a WFP-chartered aircraft, the agency said in a press release.

Out of 26 pallets loaded with food contained in platforms attached to high altitude parachutes – 22 pallets were collected by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), WFP’s partner in the city. WFP is working to find out what happened to the four other pallets.

Over 200,000 people have been living under siege in Deir Ezzor since March 2014 in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Critical food shortages have been reported.

WFP is working closely with partners on the ground organising food distributions, which should take place immediately after every drop. More airdrops are planned for the coming days to meet food and other humanitarian needs for the besieged population.

The aircraft flew from Marka airport in Jordan. Airdrops are always a last resort, as land access is easier and the most cost-effective way of delivering food, the agency said.

On 24 February, WFP carried out its first high-altitude airdrop ever, dropping 21 tons of food assistance on Deir Ezzor. But technical problems meant some of the pallets missed the drop zone and some were damaged as their parachutes failed to function properly.

Across Syria, WFP provides food to more than 4 million people every month and remains very concerned about the suffering of all Syrians living in hard-to-reach areas across the country.