The UN on December 9th began a four-week operation to conduct a one-off exceptional aid delivery of much needed lifesaving assistance to hundreds of thousands of women, children and men in Syria from Jordan.
Dry food rations from the World Food Programme were the first to be transferred, with 17 trucks having crossed into Syria as of December 12th, the UN said.
In total, 369 trucks are planned to cross through the Nassib-Jaber border crossing, which was reopened in mid-October, pending the necessary customs clearance processes.
The majority of assistance consists of food and also includes shelter, agricultural, health, water, sanitation and hygiene assistance for over 650,000 people in need in Syria.
Six UN agencies and one international non-governmental organisation (NGO) are participating in back-to-back trans-shipment deliveries that will provide one-month’s-worth of supplies.
Anders Pedersen, UN Resident and Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Jordan, called it "a major logistical operation" to "mitigate the Syrian people's suffering".
"We greatly appreciate the co-operation of the Jordanian authorities for their full support and commitment in making this a reality," he said.
The last cross-border operation to Syria from Jordan under UN Resolution 2393 was on June 25th.
However, with the Syrian Government retaking control of its southern border in July, this exceptional aid delivery falls outside the mandate of that resolution.
"We are working closely with our UN partners inside Syria to ensure this assistance reaches those who need it most," Pedersen said.
"UN offices in Syria and Jordan are distributing previously purchased aid slated to be distributed in southwest Syria," said UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) public information officer David Swanson.
The aid has been stored in Jordan since mid-2018, he told Al-Mashareq.
"It is transported through the Nassib-Jaber border crossing, instead of the Ramtha crossing with Syria as stipulated in a previous resolution of the Security Council, since the Syrian government now controls southwest Syria," he said.
The UN would like to stress the "importance of Jordan's role and thank the Jordanian government, which has granted the necessary approvals for the transport of exceptional life-saving assistance to those in need inside Syria", Swanson said.
The aid is being delivered aboard cross-border trucks to UN warehouses and will be subsequently distributed to beneficiaries inside Syria, he added.
Syrians 'in need of assistance'
"Many Syrians, particularly in Daraa and surrounding areas, are in need of assistance because aid organisations face difficulties in reaching them due to the [poor] condition of roads and the infrastructure," said Khaldoun Masri, a Syrian refugee from Daraa, who fled to Jordan with his family in 2013.
"Many of my relatives, family members and sisters are still in Daraa and surrounding villages," he told Al-Mashareq, adding that they are in dire need of humanitarian aid.
They cannot travel to Damascus or leave their homes, he said, noting that the infrastructure remains destroyed and health and relief services are not available despite the return of Syrian regime control in the south.
"Despite the restoration of calm in the south, there is a dire need to reach hundreds of thousands of stranded Syrians, as many have been displaced and have lost their homes and everything they own," Masri said.
"The aid must continue [to flow] until things get back to normal," he said.