UNHCR airlift delivering relief for 50,000 IDPs in northeast Syria
DAMASCUS, Syria, 10 July (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency has launched a series of daily flights from Damascus to the northeast of Syria to bring emergency aid to 50,000 Syrians displaced by the fighting inside their country.
The 11 round-trip flights by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees began on Wednesday, with the chartered Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane leaving Damascus in the morning with supplies for internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees in Hassakeh Governorate and returning from Qamishly in the afternoon to reload for the next day's flight.
The 440 tonnes of supplies - taking up 2,000 cubic meters of space - include 50,000 fleece blankets, 10,000 plastic sheets, 30,000 sleeping mats, 10,000 jerry cans, 10,000 kitchen sets, 10,000 hygiene kits, 20,000 sanitary napkins, and 32,000 baby and adult diapers.
This operation follows three previous airlifts by UNHCR to Hassakeh Governorate between mid-2013 and February 2014, as well as land transport through the Nussaybin/Qamishly border crossing from Turkey. Those operations delivered humanitarian assistance to 150,000 IDPs in the Governorate plus vaccines for more than 500,000 children.
"To date, and since the beginning of 2014, we have delivered core relief items to more than 2.5 million IDPs in need in 13 out of the 14 Governorates of Syria, including hard-to-reach areas," said Tarik Kurdi, UNHCR's Representative in Syria.
"With the recent opening of our office in Sweida, we continue to expand our presence on the ground to get closer to our persons of concern, while striving to secure donor funds to ensure the smooth and continuous flow of humanitarian assistance by both sea and land from Lattakia and Jordan respectively," he said.
The UN refugee agency currently has nearly 425 staff in Syria working out of seven offices in Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, Hassakeh, Qamishly, Homs, Tartous, and Sweida. Persons of concern to UNHCR in Syria include 6.5 million IDPs and around 34,000 refugees from other countries.