Syria: Humanitarian aid continues amid obstacles

The humanitarian crisis in the besieged Syrian towns is reported to have been eased as a third batch of aid was delivered although the actions of aid workers have been limited in certain areas.

A joint statement released by the U.N., the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent stated that aid reached the government-controlled towns of Zabadani and Madaya as well as Foua and Kafraya in Idlib province, which are surrounded by rebel groups.

The statement also pointed out that plans to assess the situation in Foua and Kafraya were not approved by the rebels as they stopped them from entering the cities on Monday, arguing that “more time was needed to finalize security arrangements in areas under their control.” Aid delivered to the towns consists of fuel, food and medical supplies.

The control of the Syrian territory is divided between the government and several rebel groups including the Islamic State group. The five year old war has already left more than 200,000 people dead and forced at least 4million to flee their homes.

The new U.N. refugee agency chief, Filippo Grandi, who assumed his post at the beginning of the year lamented about the situation of Syrian refugees calling for “much more ambitious” actions to resettle them. World powers either support the Assad regime or the rebels in the war but Grandi stressed that “what is needed is a better sharing of responsibilities, internationally, for a (refugee) crisis that cannot only concern the countries neighboring Syria.”

Meanwhile, there are reports that Damascus is holding secret discussions with Kurdish self-defense units and political parties for their involvement in the forthcoming Geneva III talks to begin on January 25.

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