1,650 families in Aleppo receive monthly food baskets
Aleppo continues to be one of the most dangerous places for Syrian civilians. This spring, Norwegian People’s Aid and partner organizations distribute food baskets to 1,650 of the most vulnerable families in Aleppo city and rural.
Aleppo, a former center for trade in a province rich in natural resources, continues to be one of the most important cities in Syria, both for the Assad regime and the opposition. Aleppo city has for a long time been divided between regime and opposition forces, with frequent clashes and violence. Since the beginning of the war, the Assad regime has dropped countless barrel bombs on opposition-controlled areas, a practice that has been condemned both by the international community and human rights organizations. Even after several years of violent conflict, about 400,000 people still reside in Aleppo city.
Bihar was formed by a group of doctors from the Aleppo area who were part of the peaceful resistance against the brutal Assad regime. When the conflict turned violent, the doctors started offering medical help, and soon expanded their humanitarian efforts to include hospitals, health centers, agricultural projects and food distribution in both Northern Syria and Turkey.
Masarrat runs several help centers for widows, conduct food distribution and operate a bakery in Aleppo that feeds 7,000 people daily. They are working on establishing programs for self-sufficiency and food security, for example providing internally displaced Syrians with livestock and means to feed themselves.
NPA’s current humanitarian efforts in Syria include the distribution of food baskets to families in the Aleppo area. In order to heighten food security, the same families will receive a monthly basket.
“The families have been selected among Aleppo’s internally displaced population and in the host communities. They are families living in damaged buildings or shelters, who have no access to food or services and are not receiving aid from any other agencies. We have prioritized families with more than five children and families who lack the father or both parents”, said Sarah Al-Amri, NPA Program Manager for Humanitarian Relief in Syria.
Hidden distribution points
NPA partner organization Masarrat explains that one of the main challenges in distributing the food has been continuous air strikes from the Syrian Government forces.
“We have to choose a distribution point that is hidden so that the regime’s helicopters will not see us. Sometimes we split the distribution over several days so that the lines of people will not attract too much attention”, said Masarrat project manager Mazen Abdallah.
“One of the recent distributions was interrupted by an air strike nearby the distribution point, and our partner organization was forced to shut their office and suspend distribution for two days”, Sarah Al-Amri adds.
Good relationships on the ground are crucial
NPA partner organization Bihar stresses the importance of local knowledge and good relationships on the ground in order to mitigate the risks involved in distributing food in Aleppo.
“It is very challenging, because there are many different religions, ethnicities and political views, and the violent conflict is intensifying the differences. We try to keep good relationships to the different groups in the area. Local volunteers participate in the food distributions. And we are always open about who receives aid and why, to avoid unnecessary tension between the groups, said Hivin Kako of Bihar Organization.
“Still, the one main risk that we cannot avoid is the regime’s barrel bombs”, she said.
Norwegian People’s Aid has provided humanitarian assistance in Syria for several years.
“Through our long experience working in the region, we have established connections with local partner organizations who deliver aid to vulnerable families in some of the most dangerous areas of Syria”, said Trude Falch, NPA Senior Advisor on the Middle East.