Aid convoys organized by humanitarian organizations reached besieged towns in Syria on Monday where thousands of civilians are facing hunger and starvation.
Trucks first arrived to the rebel-held town of Madaya, located west of Damascus and near the Lebanese border which has been under siege by government forces and Hezbollah fighters since July.
Later, other convoys headed to two towns besieged by rebels in Idlib province, Fouaa and Kefraya.
It's really heartbreaking to see the situation of the people.
“It’s really heartbreaking to see the situation of the people,” said Red Cross spokesman Pawel Krzysiek, who oversaw the distribution in Madaya. “A while ago, I was just approached by a little girl and her first question was, ‘Did you bring food?’”
The operation marked a small, positive development in a bitter conflict now in its fifth year that has killed a quarter of a million people, displaced millions of others and left the country in ruins.
RAW VIDEO: Aid convoys arrive in Madaya, one of three besieged villages in Syria where starvation was reported: https://t.co/jkPDlhDeBh— The Associated Press (@AP) January 11, 2016
Sajjad Malik, a representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees who took part in the operation described how grateful the people were. “It’s cold and raining, but there is excitement because we are here with some food and blankets,” Malik said.
Meanwhile, Syria’s Ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari denied that people were starving in Madaya and blamed the press for “fabricating these allegations and lies.”
During a forum at the UN Headquarters, he accused “terrorist groups” of stealing humanitarian aid and reselling it at exorbitant prices.
The U.N. says 4.5 million Syrians are living in besieged or hard-to-reach areas and desperately need humanitarian aid, with civilians prevented from leaving and aid workers blocked from bringing in food, medicine, fuel and other supplies.
The operation marked a positive development in a conflict now in its fifth year.
The fighting has killed an estimated 250,000 people, while displacing millions of others and has left the country in ruins.