The World Food Programme announced that trucks carrying food for more than 40,000 people safely reached Madaya, Syria on Jan. 12, 2016.
Boxes of food containing rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, salt, sugar, canned food, beans and lentils came on what Madaya’s residents hope to be the first of many aid convoys according to the World Food Programme.
“You could see a mixture of hope in people’s eyes and disbelief that this thing was actually happening,” Pawel Krzysiek of the International Committee of the Red Cross told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Unfortunately, residents of Madaya have been suffering from starvation as aid had not reached the area since Oct. 18, 2015, according to CNN; however it is not for a lack of trying.
Yacoub El Hillo, U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator in Syria and Kevin Kennedy, regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria Crisis released a statement from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA) on Jan. 7, 2016 indicating that Madaya has been, “inaccessible since then despite numerous requests for access.”
The statement calls for unimpeded humanitarian access to reach those in need in hard-to-reach and besieged areas in Syria and claimed that the almost 42,000 people remaining in Madaya are at risk of further hunger and starvation.
“We do not want to see this as a one-off,” El Hillo told BBC News. “Ultimately the real solution to this predicament, to the plight of the people besieged in these towns, is for the siege to be lifted.”
World Food Programme Spokeswoman Abeer Etefa told CNN the recent convoy should sustain 40,000 for a month.
Oxfam America issued a press release on Jan. 11, 2016 expressing relief that aid was scheduled to reach those starving in Madaya, but warned that this may not be sufficient.
“Madaya is one of 15 areas across Syria under siege, with inhabitants restricted from leaving and aid workers blocked from bringing in food, medicine, fuel and other supplies,” according to Oxfam America’s press release. “People in these areas also desperately need assistance and protection, yet access to them keeps deteriorating.”
The World Food Programme reported that nutritional items from UNICEF, medical supplies from the World Health Organization (WHO) and items from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent were delivered with their convoy.
The second aid convoy is reported to have reached Madaya on Jan. 14, 2016 according to BBC News.
– Summer Jackson