Since January, some 844,325 people have been reached by the UN and its partners through inter-agency cross-line convoys, Mr. O’Brien reported, including reaching 334,150 of the 590,200 people living in besieged areas as designated by the UN. Nevertheless, major protection concerns, needs and suffering remain. There are now an estimated five million people living in hard-to-reach areas, an increase of over 900,000 people from the previous estimate.
It is vital that the stuttering momentum sustained on humanitarian access over the past few months continued and improved, he said, expressing hope that by the end of the month all besieged locations will have been reached.
“Organizing the delivery of aid must remain the responsibility of the United Nations and its partners based on need, and not subject to political or other considerations,” he stressed.
The United Nations has submitted its July access plan to the Syrian authorities, requesting access to reach some 1,220,750 beneficiaries in 35 besieged, hard-to-reach and cross-line priority locations. That request had to be approved without any preconditions, stressed Mr. O’Brien, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.
“As I have said numerous times before, we remain committed and ready to deliver aid – through any possible modality including air drops – for civilians in desperate need, whoever and wherever they are,” he said, but stressed that the bottom line, however, is that the real extent of the progress cannot only be measured by ad hoc deliveries to besieged communities.
That dozens of barrel bombs were reportedly dropped on 10 June in Darayya – the day after the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Cross (SARC) delivered the first food aid to the town since November 2012 – shows that the situation for people in besieged and hard-to-reach areas will not be solved by humanitarian aid delivery alone.
“The real measure will be when the sieges, these medieval sieges, are no more, when boys don’t risk sniper fire when bringing medicine to their mothers, when doctors can administer lifesaving treatments without the fear of imminent attacks, when Yazidi girls don’t have to scratch their faces out of fear of being bought and sexually enslaved. That is the disgusting reality in Syria today,” he concluded.