U.N. aid convoy awaiting green light to deliver food to Homs-WFP

by Reuters
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 09:28 GMT

A boy rides on a tricycle along a damaged street in the besieged area of Homs, January 1, 2014. REUTERS/Yazan Homsy

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GENEVA, Jan 28 (Reuters) - The United Nations is ready to deliver a month of rations to the Old City of Homs in Syria for 2,500 people once it gets a green light from all sides, a World Food Programme (WFP) spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The U.N. hub in Homs is preparing an inter-agency aid convoy carrying food and other supplies for the besieged population in the rebel-held city, which has been out of reach for nearly a year, she said in response to a query.

"Once all parties on the ground allow the inter-agency convoy to proceed, WFP will deliver to the Old City 500 family rations and 500 bags of wheat flour, enough for 2,500 people for one month," WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told Reuters.

The WFP also planned to send 100 boxes of "Plumpy'Doz", a specialised nutrition product that helps to treat children suffering from stunted growth and acute malnutrition, she said.

The agency would also provide ready-to-eat food rations to "women and children who choose to be evacuated" from the Old City if access is granted, Byrs added.

Syrian deputy foreign minister Faysal Mekdad said on Sunday that some 2,500 people were in the Old City of Homs and that government forces were willing to let women and children leave.

International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said on Monday the Syrian government and opposition parties were still discussing how women and children could leave the Old City, where the United States has said people are starving, but there had been no decision on allowing access for a convoy due to snipers and other problems.

At peace talks in Geneva, the Syrian government has asked the opposition for all the names of men inside the Old City of Homs, he said.

"It is not a precondition to allowing the women and children out, it is a pre-condition to allowing men, civilian men out," Brahimi said. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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