UN emergency stocks too thin to feed Syria's Aleppo if under siege

by Reuters
Wednesday, 13 July 2016 09:45 GMT

A boy stands at a site hit by a barrel bomb in the rebel held area of Old Aleppo, Syria July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

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Government forces backed by allies advanced last week to within a few hundred metres of the only road into the rebel-held part of Aleppo

GENEVA, July 13 (Reuters) - The United Nations and other aid agencies have enough food in eastern Aleppo to feed 145,000 people for one month, as 200,000-300,000 in the Syrian city are at risk of being besieged by Syrian government forces, the U.N. said on Wednesday.

An opposition official has told Reuters that rebel areas of the city had stocked enough basic supplies to survive months of a siege, even though some goods were running out.

Government forces backed by allies including Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Russian air force advanced last week to within a few hundred metres (yards) of the only road into the rebel-held part of Aleppo, making it impassable for the several hundred thousand people living there.

Prices of non-perishable staple foods have tripled and fresh produce has gone up by even more, if it can be found at all. A kilo (2.2 pounds) of tomatoes, which are now in season, costs at least five times more than they did before the blockade.

The president of the city council for opposition-held Aleppo told Reuters that the council had stockpiled flour, wheat, fuel, sugar and rice, and residents were being urged to adapt to the new situation. Opposition authorities were also trying to find alternative ways to supply the rebel-held zone, he said.

The U.N. said it had reports of 57 people being killed, including 15 children, by shelling of western Aleppo between July 8 and July 11, and government airstrikes on July 10 had killed at least 19 people in Ibeen and seven in Shantra, two towns in rural Aleppo.

It said information on eastern Aleppo was difficult to collect, but it was one of the areas hardest hit by conflict with most people heavily dependent on humanitarian assistance.

The U.N. says almost 600,000 people are under siege, mainly by government forces, in 18 locations across Syria.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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