U.N. envoy says Syria’s OK to let aid reach besieged areas will test warring parties


U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura announced that aid convoys will be sent Wednesday to besieged towns in Syria to test the resolve of warring parties to allow in humanitarian supplies.

“It is clear it is the duty of the government of Syria to want to reach every Syrian person wherever they are and allow the U.N. to bring humanitarian aid, particularly now after so long time,” he told journalists after a meeting in Damascus with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.

“Tomorrow (Wednesday) we test this, and we will be able to talk more about it,” he said, referring to the warring parties.

According to a source with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the convoys will head for the rebel-besieged Shiite villages of Fuaa and Kafraya in the north, and to Madaya and Zabadani, which are encircled by the army.

Around 486,700 people in Syria currently live in areas besieged by either government or rebel forces, U.N. figures show.

Scores are reported to have died of malnutrition or because of a lack of medical treatment.

On Friday, the world body said it hoped to deliver aid to people in besieged Syrian cities “without delay” after world powers agreed to a plan to cease hostilities in the war-wracked country.

The United Nations has said that only around a dozen of 116 access requests to reach people in need have been granted by the Syrian authorities.

The United States and Russia agreed Friday in Munich on a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria within a week with the aim of relaunching the peace process and halting the exodus of civilians.

The two countries and their main allies within the International Syria Support Group also agreed on “immediate” access to humanitarian aid for needy civilians.

The United Nations said Tuesday that Syria has agreed to allow access for humanitarian aid to seven besieged areas.

“So far I understand that the government of Syria has approved access to seven besieged areas,” said Vanessa Huguenin, spokeswoman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The areas involved are Deir ez-Zor, Foah and Kafraya in Idlib, and Madaya, Zabadani, Kafr Batna and Madamiyet Elsham in rural Damascus, she said.

“Humanitarian agencies and partners are preparing convoys for these areas, to depart as soon as possible in the coming days,” she added.

Damascus gave the green light to the aid convoys after the U.N. special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, visited the capital on Tuesday.

De Mistura earlier in the day had announced that an aid convoy would be sent Wednesday to several towns under siege by the regime or the rebels.