Making sure starving Syrians get fed remains goal of UN food program
Critics say government forces starving areas to force out rebels
In the midst of a terrible civil war that has killed untold thousands of innocent civilians; the United Nations is now working with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to route food cut off due to fighting. The United Nations World Food Program has requested increased access to those living in Damascus and Aleppo. In eastern Syria a surge of fighting has made regions there more difficult to reach.
Critics along with some aid workers say the Bashar regime have aimed to starve the area of food supplies and force out their opponents in a way that hurts unarmed civilians.
Cousin says that state officials responded well to increased cooperation. She says she intends to increase planning and cooperation to ensure those promises were implemented.
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"What I talked about with the government were very tactical ideas of how do we get into Aleppo using different roads ... we talked about how do we reach those areas of rural Damascus where the regime government has said we can go. How do we then work with those checkpoints to get into those areas," she said in an interview conducted in Lebanon.
The news is not met with universal enthusiasm. Critics along with some aid workers say the Bashar regime have aimed to starve the area of food supplies and force out their opponents in a way that hurts unarmed civilians. Local doctors have already reported several cases of children dying from malnutrition.
Cousin said she was hopeful that the government would allow more access to the program in the coming year. "I'm going to believe their commitments, [which] they're going to allow us to move into more of those areas in the future, because the need is not reducing, the need is increasing."
While some progress is being made, Cousin said large swathes of eastern Syria had become even harder to access due to hard-line Islamist rebels taking some of the main roads in the area.
The agency said it flew 12 shipments of food from the Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil into Hassaka province last month. Cousin said it still not enough to meet requirements in Hassaka. "Twelve flights gave us enough food for 6,000 families. There are 45,000 families in Hassaka that need assistance," she said.
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