A convoy carrying humanitarian aid entered the Qalaat al-Madiq region of the northern Hama countryside on Thursday, by way of the Qalaat al-Madiq crossing that connects rebel-held areas in northern Syria with regime territory.
The convoy was the first of its kind to reach the northwest Hama countryside, said the Syrian Voice’s correspondent in Hama.
Forty trucks accompanied by armored vehicles were initially met with resistance from civilians who thought they were headed to the pro-regime besieged villages of Kafariya and al-Fuaa.
“More than 40 trucks carrying humanitarian aid made it into the Qalaat al-Madiq area,” Kareem Mohammed, head of the Red Cross’ Homs and Hama division, told the Syrian Voice.
“It was a joint convoy between the International Committee for the Red Cross, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and the UN,” he said.
“We got permission from both parties in Qalaat al-Madiq, the regime and opposition. The humanitarian aid that entered included food, medical supplies, and materials needed to get water projects up and running.”
“The convoy contained 6,400 food parcels, and the same number of medical parcels. The aid was intended for more than 30,000 families in the Sahl al-Ghab, Qalaat al-Madiq, and Jabal Shahshabu areas,” said Mohammed.
Local humanitarian organizations supervised the unloading of the aid, and will distribute the parcels to residents who have endured years of war in an area whose situation the UN has labeled catastrophic.
The fact that the convoy entered with regime approval upset some civilians and local humanitarian organizations. The regime kills civilians and then adopts a humanitarian stance by taking part in such aid deliveries, according to the Syrian Voice’s correspondent in Hama.
The Hama Health Directorate authorized health centers and hospitals to make their own decision about what to do with the medicine brought in by the Red Cross and Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
A spokesman for the Hama Health Directorate who preferred anonymity told the Syrian Voice that, “the Hama Health Directorate did not issue an official decision, but the power to take one was given to the clinics and hospitals on the ground, to refuse to take in any shipment of medicine from the Red Cross or Syrian Arab Red Crescent that originated in regime-held areas.”
“Refusing to take this aid does not mean a refusal to accept aid from the UN, by way of humanitarian corridors with Turkey, but we have refused, and will refuse anything coming from regime-held areas,” said the source.
“The Hama Health Directorate is capable of covering hospitals and centers in terms of medicine and medical equipment, by means of UNICEF, and other medical and humanitarian organization that send us aid from Turkey.”
The Hama Health Directorate has never previously accepted aid from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, according to the spokesman.
Some residents insisted on not taking the aid, because it entered with regime cooperation. They think that the regime is playing a game, bombing with one hand and holding out aid with the other, especially as it has committed several massacres in northern Syria recently.
Opposition areas in the northwest Hama countryside have been some of the hardest hit during the ongoing war, seeing as they fall on the front lines between rebel and regime areas. Battles and continuous, heavy bombing have been the norm in past years, causing thousands of families to flee for camps along the Turkish border, or informal camps between Hama and Idlib.