UN Mulls Using Syria Eid Ceasefire to Deliver Aid

World | October 25, 2012, Thursday // 18:44|  views

Syrian refugees are seen at a refugee camp in Reyhanli district in Hatay, Turkey, 25 October 2012. EPA/BGNES

The UN's refugee agency said Thursday it is ready to send emergency aid to thousands of Syrian families in previously unreachable areas if a proposed ceasefire holds.

"In all, some 550 tonnes of supplies are being made available for distribution to up to 13,000 affected families - some 65,000 people - in several previously inaccessible areas," the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement.

So far, 5,000 emergency family kits have been pre-positioned in the northwestern city of Aleppo, with another 5,000 on the way, the UNHCR said, adding that other conflict-hit cities were also set to receive help.

"We and our partners want to be in a position to move quickly if security allows over the next few days," said UNHCR Syria Representative Tarik Kurdi in Damascus.

"There are areas around Aleppo, Idlib, Raqqa and Homs we've been unable to reach with humanitarian aid for some time," he said in the statement, stressing that "if there is a window of opportunity here, we will be ready to move."

The agency plans to send nearly 2,000 aid packs to the eastern city of Homs later on Thursday, and another 1,000 kits Friday and Saturday from its office in the northeastern city of Hassakeh to the neighbouring governorate of Raqqa. A smaller number of kits will be made available in areas south of Hassakeh, it said.

The development came as the Syrian military and rebels announced they would heed peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's appeal for a four-day ceasefire during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which started Friday.

"Military operations will cease on Syrian territory as of Friday morning, until Monday the 29th," the army said in a statement read on state television. Both sides however reserved the right to respond to attacks by their opponents.

Some 1.2 million people inside Syria are in need of emergency humanitarian aid, according to the UNHCR, which aims to distribute non-food aid packages to 500,000 people by the end of the year.

More than 35,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the outbreak of the revolt in Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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Tags: Syria, Syrians, rebels, Syrian rebels, syrian regime, arab spring, Bashar Al-Assad, Syrian opposition, refugees, UN refugee agency UNHCR, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Eid al-Adha, Tarik Kurdi, Damascus


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