UN plans to air drop aids for Syria’s Qamishli

UN plans to air drop aids for Syria’s Qamishli

The UN said Thursday it would begin sending aids by air drops to the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli, which has been inaccessible by domestic roads for more than two years.

“We are just about to launch an air bridge into Qamishli from Damascus,” the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Yacoub El Hillo, told reporters.

“The reason for this is that we have run out of meaningful means to reach people over land,” he said, adding that the airlift ” will bring life-saving assistance to a very large number of people.”

Qamishli, near the Turkish border, lies in Hasakeh governorate, which can only be reached by road in Syria by driving through the governorates of Raqqa and Deir Ezzor, which are dominated by the Islamic State group.

“They haven’t been reached by land from within the country since early 2014,” said Bettina Luescher, spokeswoman for the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) which will coordinate the operation.

She told AFP that the flights, 25 in all over the next month, each carrying 40 tons of aid, are expected to begin “in the next few days.”

Some 1,000 tons of relief items — consisting 70 percent of food — will be flown into a nearby airport and distributed in the town, Luescher said.

She said the aim during the first month was to feed 150,000 people.

The UN previously set up an airlift to bring aid to Qamishli in 2014, and has also delivered assistance across the border from Turkey, but the main border crossing has been closed since the beginning of the year.