Some relief at long last for Syrians
ON Thursday, the regime of President Bashar Al Assad informed the United Nations that it had given approval for humanitarian convoys to reach all of the 19 cities and towns still besieged by Syrian forces. And late on Thursday night, an international aid convoy was able to deliver food to people in the Syrian town of Daraya, for the first time since 2012. Even then, it is too little, too late. It also remains to be seen if indeed aid will now regularly reach the tens of thousands of desperate, hungry and malnourished Syrians so badly in need of the very basics for living.
Staffan de Mistura, the man with possibly the hardest job description ever written as the UN’s Special Envoy to Syria, stressed that the Damascus government had given such approvals in the past, before ultimately blocking convoys from distributing life-saving supplies. Ever since the opening salvoes of this most bloody and miserable conflict five years ago, there were calls for humanitarian corridors to be established, allowing for trapped civilians who wanted to leave areas of conflict to be able to do so. Those calls have often come to nothing. And when peace was restored even for brief periods, the delivery of humanitarian aid was slow to follow the first moments when guns fell silent.
Yes, it is Ramadan and the Syrian regime has been true to its murderous form in the first few days of the month. There would be no blanket ceasefire, no end to the killing, no reason to stop, reflect, think and pray. In Aleppo, the bombardment continues intermittently, with one of the last few functioning medical facilities being targeted in recent days. And in the outskirts of Damascus, anti-government forces and those trapped in the rubble and the ruins make do with little food and less peace. Over these past five years, nothing has changed the situation on the ground. If there is any celebration of this special month, it is muted, prayers offered and iftars eaten in tents of refugee camps across Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon or anywhere where the millions who have left everything behind gather in groups. Yes, Damascus may have given approval for humanitarian convoys to reach Syrians, but it must do all it can to sustain that assurance. — Gulf News