International aid going into Qalaat al-Madiq in Hama

News of vital humanitarian aid arriving comes as a delight to the citizens in the rebel-held regions of Hama. The towns of Qalaat al-Madiq, Kafr Zeila and Kafr Nabudah and the mountain regions of Shahshabo are set to receive a convoy of 21 trucks carrying food and medical supplies, which will accommodate the needs of more than 10,000 families who are affected by the events taking place.

This aid has been facilitated by the joint efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) as a response to the dire needs of the people living in these rebel-controlled areas. Life has become tough for the ordinary people who have been living through this almost six-year conflict.

Many millions have been displaced, families have been ripped apart, businesses have been forced to close and many millions of children have been left without an education.

Seven months ago, and following years of petitioning for aid, a SARC convoy of 17 trucks left for the rebel-held south Hama countryside. When it got to the checkpoint of one of the towns, Aqrab, pro-regime militias reportedly shot on or near the convoy, and it turned around to go back to Hama city.

Shortly thereafter, pro-regime media outlets reported that residents from the adjacent pro-regime towns in South Hama fired shots in the air to protest what they allege to be the mass kidnapping of 300 residents from Alawite-majority areas.

With food baskets and medicine, the convoy, the first to arrive at the rebel-held countryside since 2013, was destined for the rebel-held towns of Aqrab, Tallaf, and Khirbet al-Jama, which were encircled by regime forces in 2012. An estimated 25,000 residents live in the pocket, roughly 40 km south-west of Hama city.

Citizens are hoping the same thing doesn’t happen again this time around, they were outraged as they watched the convoy turn around at the checkpoint in November 2016 as they fought so hard to receive the aid. If this new arrangement goes to plan, many thousands of families will receive vital supplies.