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

Sources: BBC, CNN, Oxfam America, Relief Web, WFP, News Yahoo
Photo: Catch News

Syria Refugees Settle in Australia
Entire towns ransacked to ruins, food and medicine completely run out, schools and hospitals attacked, rape and disappearance of women, and blockades preventing essential flow of goods to the people—these unbelievable conditions are actually happening today in Syria. The conflict in Syria has led to over 100,000 deaths, and over two million people have already fled the nation.

The United Nations Security Council has created plans to address humanitarian action to stop the suffering of the Syrian people. However, the international support networks have not realized the plans to help these people. The international community has been unsuccessful in demanding that agencies assist Syria. The UN has voiced a need for an additional $4.5 million to meet Syria’s needs, but less than 40 percent of this financial target has been met.

Syria’s neighbors are doing their best to take in fleeing refugees. Lebanon, for example, now houses 750,000 refugees. Because an astounding two million refugees have fled Syria, surrounding nations including Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan are facing great population increases. The UNHCR has requested that nations aim to alleviate the burden these neighboring nations are dealing with.

While not a neighboring country, Australia has contributed to Syrian aid as well, providing the nation with nearly $100 million, with $45.5 million allocated to support the neighboring nations taking in refugees. Australia has joined 16 other nations, and made an agreement to take in 500 Syrian refugees.

The UN Security Council’s resolution calls for the urgent and unhindered deliverance of aid toward Syrian civilians caught up in the Syrian civil war. The statement sends an urgent message that Syria must allow the UN to come in and help the innocent citizens. Australia is responding to this call.

Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, said the refugee relocation will begin in 2013-2014. The agreement “guarantees more resettlement places for those waiting in desperate circumstances.” Further, Morrison explained priority will be given to refugees who are most vulnerable and need urgent security.

Morrison emphasized, however, that “The Australian people’s support should not be interpreted as an encouragement to those seeking to enter our country illegally.” He said that those arriving unlawfully on boats will not be treated differently than any other illegal immigrants.

– Laura Reinacher

Sources: Business Standard The Guardian ABC Australia
Photo: ABC Australia