“Real horror” as airstrikes destroy 20 trucks of aid in Aleppo countryside
It is with horror and frustration that People in Need report yet another attack against humanitarians and humanitarian infrastructure in Syria.
Yesterday evening, September 19th, a series of airstrikes devastated a convoy of aid trucks and a warehouse of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in Big Orem, western Aleppo countryside. A SARC health clinic was also reportedly severely damaged. 12 SARC volunteers as well as the SARC area coordinator and an unconfirmed number of truck drivers and porters were killed and many more were injured.
The convoy of 31 UN and SARC trucks were filled with aid including food, medicines and medical equipment, in addition to education, nutrition and winter supplies. These were destined for 78,000 vulnerable people in western Aleppo countryside.
Haseeb, an aid worker in Big Orem, recounted what he witnessed last night to People in Need.
“It was a very horrific night. Pro-regime warplanes and helicopters hit the aid convoy and the warehouse in Big Orem violently. The spate of airstrikes lasted more than a half hour; six barrel bombs were dropped and four vacuum bombs hit the area, in addition to some rockets which the locals here call C5. The convoy was intended to be delivered to Aleppo according to the Russian/US truce. Twelve SARC volunteers and SARC area coordinator Omar Barakat were killed in addition to some porters and truck drivers and about 18 more were injured. Out of 31 trucks, 20 were completely destroyed and caught huge fire. Civilians’ homes were impacted as well. The White Helmets could not extinguish the fire till very late at night. It was real horror”
This is not the first time humanitarian convoys have been hit in airstrikes. In fact, this is not even the first time an aid convoy has been hit in western Aleppo in the last 6 weeks.
First aid responders who had rushed to the scene to help save whomever had a fighting chance were met with further attack. Such consecutive strikes on the same location are referred to as ‘double-tap’ strikes and have become a commonplace reality in Syria. Mourners, families looking for lost relatives and paramedics are the ones who suffer the most the double-tap strikes.
The victims of yesterday’s attack were primarily SARC volunteers. International Humanitarian Law continues to be wholly disrespected as multiple actors continue to commit acts in violation of the rights of civilians. Children, doctors, and aid workers are not spared.
People in Need stands in solidarity with fellow humanitarians who put their lives at risk trying to serve those in need. Our teams, like the majority of humanitarians in Syria today were teachers, students, pharmacists and business owners before they were aid workers. They were not born brave or fearless, and they did not intend to put themselves in the firing line to deliver bread and food kits but this is what they face now. They are committed to a cause, to fulfill the duty they feel towards their fellow countrymen and women.
In light of this situation, People in Need will suspend all of our programmatic activities in Syria tomorrow — the International Day of Peace — in order to re-assess the security situation, and to stand in solidarity with our fellow humanitarians.
Eleanor McClelland, PIN Regional Communications and Advocacy Officer Turkey-Syria-Iraq
Sari Haj Jneid, PIN Field Communications Officer in Syria