Syria’s Homs to receive aid after evacuations

[08-02-2014 01:46 PM]

Ammon News - The Syrian city of Homs will begin to receive U.N. aid deliveries on Saturday, a day after dozens of civilians who survived more than 600 days of army siege were evacuated.

The delivery of food and medical supplies is to be carried through as part of deal between the government and armed rebels following months of negotiations brokered by the U.N.

“U.N. teams have pre-positioned food, medical and other basic supplies for immediate delivery as soon as the first group of civilians are out and we hope to send this aid on Saturday morning,” U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Syria, Yacoub El Hillo, was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.

“We commend all involved for reaching this milestone today,” said Hillo, who oversaw the launch.

Meanwhile, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said the operations would continue.

“We understand that for the most part the operation went smoothly, but there were isolated reports of gunfire heard during the day (Friday),” he said.

“We’ll try to evacuate more civilians and deliver aid in the next few days,” he added.

Haq said U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos hailed the start as a “breakthrough” and describing it as “a small but important step toward compliance with international humanitarian law.”

Activists frequently report severe food and medical shortages, with some 3,000 people including more than 1,200 women, children, and elderly people trapped in Homs, surviving on little more than olives and grass.


On Friday, Red Crescent volunteers aided frail-looking old men wrapped in blankets board a bus, as a woman on a stretcher awaited her turn.

Three busloads of civilians were moved from rebel-held parts of Homs, accompanied by the volunteers, Reuters reported.

The first two busses carried at least 35 women, children and elderly men, and arrived at a meeting point outside the city.

The rebel areas, which include the Old City, have been under choking army siege for more than 600 days.

Activists frequently report severe food and medical shortages, with some 3,000 people including 1,200 women, children, and elderly people trapped there, surviving on little more than grass and olives.

Homs has long been a key flashpoint. Early in the uprising which broke out in March 2011, thousands of people protested regularly in the city center.

Then starting early 2012, the army launched a string of massive offensives aimed at recapturing rebel areas of Syria’s third city.

In February 2012, the Baba Amr district was bombarded using tanks, helicopters, mortars and rockets, killing hundreds of people. The neighborhoods fell to army control on March 1.

The army then took back other neighborhoods, including Bayada and Inshaat. In summer 2013, the army captured rebel bastion Khaldiyeh.


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