DUBAI // A convoy of lorries loaded with essential supplies for more than 100,000 people set off from Dubai yesterday on a two-week journey to Syria.
The 33 vehicles, carrying Dh4.4?million of relief aid, left the United Nation’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warehouse in Dubai Humanitarian City on a route that will take them through Saudi Arabia and Jordan, eventually reaching Syria in about 14 days.
“UNHCR is working inside Syria and in neighbouring countries to help people uprooted by the war,” said Amin Awad, regional refugee coordinator.
“This shipment of relief items will ensure thousands of vulnerable Syrian families have the necessary aid they require.”
The lorries are carrying 100,000 blankets, 27,900 kitchen sets and 50,000 jerry cans, as well as other goods.
“These are what we call core relief items,” said Soliman Daud, senior global supply officer at UNHCR. “Those are to meet the basic needs a person has when he’s uprooted from his home or if he’s trapped inside a conflict.”
There are believed to be 4.25 million displaced people in Syria, and 6.8 million in need of aid.
The donation is not the largest shipment to leave the UAE, but is one of the biggest sent over land, said Mr Daud, who oversees the UNHCR’s warehouses in Dubai.
The cost of transporting and storing the supplies is about Dh440,000. This year, the agency has distributed aid to 1.6 million people in Syria.
To date, more than 3.6 million items have been shipped to the war-torn country by UNHCR.
In the past week, 10 UNHCR lorries distributed aid to 10,000 people in the north-west city of Idlib, an area of continuing tensions.
The Dubai facility is the largest in the region and is able to meet the needs of 390,000 people at any one time.
“We can respond to emergencies within the region in 72 hours by road or by sea,” Mr Daud said. “At the beginning of emergencies we usually respond by air.
“We are in a very strategic location here and Dubai has excellent logistics facilities.”
The UNHCR also offers cash aid to displaced Syrians. The agency has handed out Dh3.34 million, in Syrian pounds, to 33,000 people so far this year.
The agency assesses people based on need, said a UNHCR representative, Tarik Kurdi.
“UNHCR has established vulnerability criteria and carefully screens internally displaced persons to ensure they qualify for the cash aid programme,” he said.
“Many of the displaced persons we are assisting are persons with disabilities or serious medical conditions.”