Rare aid enters rebel-held areas in Syria's Aleppo

AFP , Wednesday 9 Apr 2014

A view of a damaged building in the al-Myassar neighbourhood of Aleppo April 8, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Syria's Red Crescent and the UN refugee agency have delivered aid to rebel-held areas of Aleppo city for the first time in 10 months, the Red Crescent said Wednesday.

"Yesterday at noon we and a UNHCR team were able to bring in aid from the Jisr al-Haj crossing," Red Crescent operations chief Khaled Erksoussi told AFP.

The crossing lies between the government-held west of Aleppo and eastern parts of the city that rebels control.

"The operation took place after the implementation of a ceasefire between all the parties that was respected during the mission," said Erksoussi.

It was the first time aid had been brought in via the Jisr al-Haj crossing, with a delivery in June last year entering from the northeast of the city instead.

The goods, including food, blankets and health kits, were taken into the eastern neighbourhoods on carts pulled by workers because the crossing was to small to accomodate vehicles, said Erksoussi.

The items would be stored in warehouses in the eastern part of the city and distributed in stages.

The UN refugee agency called the mission a "rare and risky operation," adding its staff had observed a "dire humanitarian situation inside eastern Aleppo".

It described "an acute shortage of food, water, medicine and basic supplies".

"UNHCR last accessed the area in June, 2013 and no humanitarian aid has reached the population there since then," it added.

It said the aid had been delivered to the crossing in two trucks and then transported by 75 workers pulling carts "back and forth one and a half kilometres each way... in 270 trips."

Aleppo has been effectively divided into regime control in the west and rebel control in the east since shortly after fighting began there in the middle of 2012.

The government has made some advances on the outskirts of the eastern side of the city in a campaign that has included serial aid raids including with the use of explosive-packed barrel bombs.

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