The Syrian government insisted Thursday there is no need for the United Nations to airdrop food supplies in besieged parts of the embattled nation because “no one” is starving.
The U.S., Britain and France urged the U.N. to start humanitarian aid drops ahead of an upcoming Security Council meeting to discuss the crisis in parts of Syria. According to Sky News, deliveries made it into Daraya Wednesday for the first time since 2012 and Moadamiyeh for the first time since March.
However, the humanitarian convoy didn’t bring any food.
The Telegraph reported that video footage from the greater Damascus region has shown dozens of men, women and children on the verge of starvation. A 12-year-old girl died Wednesday of malnutrition bringing the number of starvation-related deaths in the area to more than 70.
Bouthaina Shabaan, a senior adviser to President Bashar Assad, told The Telegraph Thursday there was “no need” for the U.N. or major world powers to intervene and claimed that reports of humanitarian crises were untrue.
“Daraya is the food basket of Damascus; there is nobody starving there,” she insisted.
French ambassador Francois Delattre said access to the towns and villages under siege in Syria remained blocked. Delatrre pinned the blame on the Assad regime.
“France is asking the United Nations and in particular the WFP (World Food Programme) to begin humanitarian air drops for all the areas in need, beginning with Daraya, Moadamiyeh and Madaya, where the civilian population including children risks dying of hunger,” he said.
The International Syria Support Group (ISSG) requested that the WFP prepared for air drops if emergency aid remained blocked, although it’s unclear whether Syria will allow planes carrying supplies into its airspace.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said the deliveries to Daraya and Moadamiyeh were “far from sufficient” and the U.S. supported moving forward on plans for the air drops.
The joint U.N., International Committee of the Red Cross, and Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy that reached Daraya Wednesday contained medicines, vaccines, baby formula, and "nutritional items for children," the ICRC said, but no food.
"Clearly, what we brought today will not meet the needs of people in Daraya -- and a one-off delivery of food will not either," Krista Armstrong of the ICRC told the AP via email, saying the organization hopes to return with food Friday. "We need to have repeated and regular access to all people living in besieged places in Syria."
It was not immediately clear why the shipment contained no food. A 36-truck aid convoy entered neighboring Moadamiyeh, which is also under government siege, at around the same time, carrying food. The suburb last received aid in February, residents said.
Opposition forces in Syria have called for a countrywide cease-fire for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and aid access for all Syrians.
An earlier cease-fire that went into effect in late February brought relief to some opposition areas but frayed by late April.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.