Aid convoy for 40,000 enters besieged Damascus suburb of Ghouta

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 30.10.2017 17:31
Updated 30.10.2017 19:55
A Syrian child holds a piece of cauliflower in his hand at the Ashari camp for the displaced in the opposition-held eastern Ghouta area outside the capital Damascus, Syria, Oct. 25, 2017. (AFP Photo)
A Syrian child holds a piece of cauliflower in his hand at the Ashari camp for the displaced in the opposition-held eastern Ghouta area outside the capital Damascus, Syria, Oct. 25, 2017. (AFP Photo)

A convoy carrying aid for some 40,000 people entered the besieged opposition-held Eastern Ghouta region outside Syria's capital Damascus on Monday, a U.N. spokeswoman said.

The joint U.N.-Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy was carrying aid to the Kafr Batna and Saqba districts, a week after doctors said at least two children in Eastern Ghouta had died of malnutrition and related complications.

"The UN & Syrian Red Crescent entered Kafra Batna and Saqba in besieged East Ghouta with humanitarian assistance for 40,000 people in need Syria," the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a tweet.

A tightening Assad regime siege has pushed people to the verge of famine in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, residents and aid workers said last week, bringing desperation to the only major opposition enclave near the Syrian capital.

Theconvoy included 49 trucks carrying "eight thousand food parcels and a similar number of bags of flour, medicine, medical supplies, and other nutritional materials," Red Crescent spokeswoman Mona Kurdi said.

Doctors said they examine dozens of malnourished children a day and that at least two had died.

Eastern Ghouta was once a prime agricultural region.

But the opposition stronghold has been under a crushing Assad regime siege since 2013, causing shortages of food and medicine.

That has pushed up prices for whatever can be produced locally or smuggled in.

The region has been devastated by years of fighting, with regime air strikes and shelling bringing down multistory buildings and rendering whole streets uninhabitable.

Basic services for the region's estimated 400,000 residents are virtually non-existent, with electricity produced only by generators and the available water often dirty and a vector for illness.

Aid has entered the area only sporadically, with the last delivery in September.

Convoys have generally only been able to deliver food and medical supplies that fall far short of the region's needs.

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