BY ARUL LOUIS
United Nations– Indian peacekeepers deployed in Syria have responded to the plight of earthquake victims in that country by ferrying relief sent by India through devastated areas.
Indian peacekeepers drove a convoy of four vehicles from Camp Faouar in the Golan Heights to Aleppo to deliver the aid on Tuesday, according to Colonel Pratyush Kumar, the chief of staff of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
Another convoy is being planned, he said.
He said that a portion of the relief supplies flown by India on C-17s from Hindon to Damascus was earmarked for Aleppo and was handed over by the Indian Embassy to UNDOF’s Indian contingent.
The relief material that included medicines, medical supplies and equipment were taken by road to UNDOF’s Camp Faouar in Quneitra, Kumar said in response to a query from IANS.
From there they went on the arduous 400 km journey to Aleppo where the relief supplies were handed over to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, he said.
A total of 10 tonnes of assorted relief material were collected by the UNDOF for the relief operations in the Aleppo area following appeals also to international donors, Kumar said.
The February 6 earthquake that cut a deadly swathe across Syria and Turkiye has claimed over 40,000 lives, at least 6,000 in Syria.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made an international appeal on Tuesday for $397 million to help the victims in Syria.
UNDOF’s mandate from the Security Council is to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Syria and the governments of India and Nepal gave the required permission for their peacekeepers to be deployed outside the mandate area.
India contributes 200 personnel and Nepal 415 to UNDOF, which is headed by Major General Nirmal Kumar Thapa of Nepal.
On receiving a request from the Syrian government for help with earthquake relief, an advance UNDOF team headed by Kumar went to Aleppo on Sunday and met with Governor Ahmed Hussain Diab and other officials to assess the help required there.
Diab told them that the need of the hour for the people of the Aleppo governorate was relief material and UNDOF organised the relief convoys with Indian aid. (IANS)