UN airdrop delivers aid to besieged Syrian city


Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria under seige from Daesh, residents starving, UN

By Fatih Erel

GENEVA – The UN has carried out its first successful humanitarian airdrop in Syria, the organization said Monday.

On Sunday, food packages from the World Food Program (WFP) were parachuted to the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, where 200,000 civilians have been besieged by Daesh forces since March 2014.

“The airdrop was the first time WFP food assistance has reached besieged parts of the city since March 2014,” the WFP said in a statement.

A previous high-altitude drop in February failed, the UN said.

“On Feb. 24, WFP carried out its first high-altitude airdrop ever, dropping 21 tons of food assistance,” the statement said. “But technical problems meant some of the pallets missed the drop zone and some were damaged as their parachutes failed to function properly.”

The agency said Sunday’s drop delivered 20 metric tons of food supplies – enough to feed 2,500 people for a month.

The WFP is planning further airdrops to Deir ez-Zor, where Daesh will not allow overland aid access.

In January, UN humanitarian agencies said the city’s residents, mostly women and children, were facing sharply deteriorating conditions and needed urgent humanitarian assistance amid reports of severe cases of malnutrition and deaths due to starvation.

Meanwhile, the UN had called on the Syrian government to honor its pledge to allow aid to isolated and besieged areas after a request to deliver aid was rejected last week by the regime.