MOSCOW, January 31, 1:47 /ITAR-TASS/. The Russian Embassy in Syria is helping coordinate the terms of a possible humanitarian operation in Homs, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, January 30.
“Acute humanitarian aspects of the Syrian crisis are more and more often listed among priority tasks to be addressed by the Syrian government and the opposition with the assistance of the international community,” the ministry said. “This topic assumes special importance in the Syrian dialogue started as part of the Geneva process.”
The ministry stressed the need for a “comprehensive non-selective and non-discriminatory approach to giving aid convoys access to Syria’s areas where people have been trapped by hostilities. It is necessary to try to ensure that effective and timely aid reaches all those who need it, not only the residents of certain towns. It would be very important therefore to expand the practice of ‘local conciliation’, drawing on the positive experience of the successful humanitarian operation in Al-Maadamia, and to encourage the sides in Syria to exchange prisoners and hostages.”
“The possibility of delivering aid to Homs has been considered lately. However the opposition and some external actors have unjustifiably placed all responsibility for the delay in the passage of the humanitarian convoy and for the suffering of people in the area of hostilities on the government of Syria,” the ministry said.
It said this was “to a large extent an intentional distortion of facts.” “The Syrian authorities have agreed in principle to allow peaceful citizens, primarily women and children, to leave this area, with the subsequent prompt delivery of humanitarian aid to the city. However this does not agree with the opposition, which insists on free evacuation of wounded gunmen. The coordination of the terms of a possible humanitarian operation in Homs is continuing with the active participation of the Russian Embassy in Syria,” the ministry said.
United Nations trucks in Syria are on standby to deliver urgently needed food and medicines to 500 besieged families who have been trapped in the Old City of Homs without any aid for almost two years, once the warring parties allow access, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) announced this week.
Nearly 1.6 million civilians in other parts of Syria have been without regular WFP supplies for months.
Access for humanitarian aid to trapped civilians is one of the major issues being discussed at ongoing talks between the Syrian Government and the main opposition group in Geneva which seek to end nearly three years of civil war in which well over 100,000 people have been killed and nearly 9 million others driven from their homes since the conflict erupted between the government and various groups seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad.
As for the situation n Homs, once all parties on the ground allow a U.N. interagency convoy to proceed, WFP will deliver 500 family rations and 500 bags of wheat flour to those under siege in the Old City, enough for 2,500 people for one month, WFP spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva.
WFP has repeatedly called for sustained access to all parts of Syria where regular access to communities is limited. “It is not just one convoy into the Old City of Homs but access to all communities needing help that is required,” Ms. Byrs said.