UNHCR reaches rebel-held area of north Syria for first time

GENEVA Fri Feb 1, 2013 11:41am GMT

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations refugee agency said on Friday that for the first time it had reached the opposition-held Azaz area of northern Syria where it found an estimated 45,000 displaced people living in appalling conditions in makeshift camps.

"This is an area that the U.N. has not been able to physically reach ever since the beginning of the conflict," Yacoub El Hillo, director of UNHCR's Middle East and North Africa Bureau, told reporters in Geneva.

Azaz is located opposite Kilis camp on the Turkish side that holds about 10,000 Syrian refugees who have crossed that border, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

"On this (Syrian) side it is makeshift camps in appalling conditions. So hopefully this will be the first of many, many convoys that we will be operating," El Hillo said.

The Syrian government does not allow U.N. agencies to enter rebel-held areas from across its borders, but aid agencies including Medecins Sans Frontieres have been active in the Azaz region where temperatures are now sub-zero, he said.

"They want us to continue, it could not have happened without the Syrian government. For the planes to land near Latakia we had to have landing permits and also for the trucks to move," El Hillo said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Jon Boyle)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
Wvandamme wrote:
So this so-called cruel regime allows and gave aid so food can be distributed to people in villages occupied by Salafists. But here we are always told by are government controlled media Assad is a very bad man.

Feb 01, 2013 5:33pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.