Dozens of residents in a besieged town outside the Syrian capital have staged a demonstration urging the United Nations to allow humanitarian aid into the area. The protesters, mostly women and children, took to the streets on Wednesday in rebel-held Darayya, which has been encircled by President Bashar al-Assad’s troops for more than three years.
The children in the protest lined-up to form the letters “SOS”, while banners called on UN officials to help. “[UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria] Mr Yacoub El Hillo, what are you doing to help us,” one banner read. “If you can stop the shelling, you can break the siege,” another read. No aid has entered Darayya since the beginning of its siege.
The town continued to witness heavy bombardment until a US-Russia brokered ceasefire came into force on February 27. The opposition Media Centre in Darayya said that the reason the protest was attended mainly by women and children was to dispel the regime’s claims that the town is only inhabited by combatants.
Darayya borders a military airport used by Russian planes – which started conducting air strikes in support of Assad in late September – and the Syrian government is keen to wrest back control of the area. The UN has said that humanitarian aid efforts in Syria have made great progress since the ceasefire went into effect. In recent weeks, the UN and its partners have sent 536 trucks filled with aid to nearly 240,000 people, and the relief supplies have reached 18 besieged areas in the war-torn country.