Middle East

UN sends first Syria aid without government consent

Residents of Syria"s Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, south of Damascus, use a wheelchair to carry a box of goods distributed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on July 17 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Almost half of Syria's population is now in need of aid, the UN says

The United Nations has sent its first aid convoy into Syria without the consent of the government in Damascus.

It comes a week after the UN adopted a resolution allowing aid deliveries without the Syrian government's approval.

Nine trucks carrying food and sanitation supplies entered Syria from Turkey on Thursday, officials said.

The UN says more than 10.8 million Syrians are in need of aid after more than three years of brutal civil war.

More than 150,000 people have been killed in Syria and over 9 million have been displaced from their homes by the fighting, which began in 2011 as an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Aid obstructed

The trucks entered northern Syria from the Bab al-Salam crossing on the border with Turkey, the UN said.

Officials said it would take some time for the aid to reach the intended towns.

Until now, almost 90% of UN aid to Syria has gone to parts of the country still controlled by the government.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accused both the government and opposition of obstructing aid "as a tactic of war".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Large parts of Syria's main cities, such as Aleppo, have been devastated during three years of war

He told the UN Security Council that both sides had recently stepped up targeting of infrastructure such as water and electricity.

"This is compounding the already dire water, sanitation and health conditions in conflict areas and resulting in an increased risk of outbreaks of waterborne diseases" Mr Ban said.

Last week the UN security council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing aid deliveries without government approval through four crossings - two from Turkey, one from Jordan and one from Iraq.

More aid deliveries are schedules to enter Syria from those countries in the coming months.

Syria has warned that it views the UN convoys as an attack on its sovereignty.

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