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Vital UNICEF supplies airlifted to Syrian Arab Republic

As Syrians brace for a harsh winter, UNICEF supplies are airlifted from Iraq for the first aid delivery of its kind.  Download this video


By Chris Niles

ERBIL, Iraq, 18 December 2013 – The first-ever humanitarian airlift of critical winter supplies left Iraq for Qamishly, in the north-east of the Syrian Arab Republic. The airlift, a joint operation of UNICEF, the World Food Program (WFP) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), was the first since the crisis in Syria began in March 2011.

It carried nearly 22 metric tons of water, hygiene and medical kits for Syrian children and their families, and comes as displaced families face one of the worst winters in memory. Winter storm Alexa has brought heavy snow and cold temperatures across the region.

© UNICEF Iraq/2013/Niles
UNICEF supplies being loaded onto a chartered Iluyshin IL-76 at Erbil International Airport, northern Iraq.

“UNICEF reaches every child, no matter where they are,” said UNICEF Representative in Iraq Marzio Babille. “We are sustaining the needs of Syrian children in the refugee camps, in host communities in Kurdistan, and those suffering from displacement, conflict and harsh winter conditions in north-eastern Syria.”

About 188,000 people are living under extremely difficult conditions in the north-east of the Syrian Arab Republic, one of the coldest regions of the country, and access is extremely difficult because of the danger of road travel. Families there have not received any significant deliveries since May, and the airlift will replenish warehouses in areas where supplies are desperately needed.

UNICEF’s contribution to the airlift, which includes collapsible water containers, soap and water purification tablets, will meet the needs of about 8,000 families. The medical kits contain essential medicines and medical devices and consumables to meet the primary health needs of up to 10,000 people for three months.

© UNICEF Iraq/2013/Niles
For the first time, UNICEF Iraq is airlifting supplies to north eastern Syria. The airlift, a partnership between UNICEF, WFP and UNHCR, will continue over several days.

It’s part of a larger joint UN agency campaign with the World Food Programme and UNHCR. Two planes will do 23 rotations between Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic over 10 days.

“We have to thank the Iraqi government, the Kurdistan Regional Government for allowing this vital humanitarian support to take place under the guidance of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General Nickolay Mladenov,” said Mr. Babille. “The cargo plane bringing crucial humanitarian support to north-eastern Syria responds to the need to reach every child wherever he or she needs us.”



UNICEF Photography: Syrian crisis


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