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21 Jul, 2018 13:11

Russia teams up with France to deliver aid to Eastern Ghouta – Foreign Ministry

Russia and France will send a relief convoy to Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, delivering first aid kits and medication to local hospitals, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. The distribution of aid will be supervised by Moscow.

The two countries will launch a humanitarian project for Syria to provide care and medicine for people in Eastern Ghouta “who are still in need of medical attention,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said, citing a joint communique based on arrangements made by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in May of this year.

It will be the first joint humanitarian operation in Syria between Russia and a Western country.

The aid deliveries, which will go to local hospitals manned by Syrian Arab Red Crescent, “include first-aid medical equipment, namely emergency and trauma care, for 500 heavily wounded people as well as basic medication to treat 15,000 light injuries.”

Russia will airlift the aid packages directly from France to Syria, and will also ensure their safety on the ground. The aid convoy will be sent in compliance with UN rules and humanitarian law, the Foreign Ministry has said.

It is crucial that Syrians get wider access to humanitarian relief, the statement noted, before adding that aid should be distributed fairly and freely all across Syria “where international humanitarian law must apply.”

Later, Putin and Macron discussed the humanitarian effort for Syria during a telephone conversation. The pair have been focusing on the “humanitarian aspect of Syrian reconciliation, including the joint Franco-Russian initiative on rendering assistance to the population of Eastern Ghouta,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

Eastern Ghouta, lying in close proximity to Damascus, was liberated by Syrian forces back in March following almost seven years of fighting in the area. The army has also lifted the blockade of a main highway connecting the Syrian capital to the rest of the country. 

The battle of Eastern Ghouta saw tens of thousands of civilians as well as numerous rebels flee through humanitarian corridors in search of safety. Daily humanitarian pauses began on February 27, as part of the Syrian Army and Russia’s efforts to help civilians – and later militants – escape the combat zone.

The Russian military has repeatedly said that the militants used civilians as human shields, targeting those trying to flee the terrorist-held enclave. After the much-anticipated liberation, the UN and other humanitarian groups such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) sent a number of aid convoys to provide care those who remained in the Eastern Ghouta area.

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