Field Diary by Juliette Touma
Nusaybin, Turkey, March 22, 2014– The drive to the border town of Mardin in southeast Turkey was long. We reached the town in the evening, a sleepy border town that has become a centre of attention in the past few days.
Humanitarian aid to Syria was going in from Turkey for the first time ever since a brutal civil war began more than three years ago.
We drove to the border crossing the following morning where I met the unsung heroes of UNICEF. Colleagues who have been, for the past days, busy uploading supplies on 17 huge trucks. Five of these trucks bear supplies from UNICEF; boxes and boxes full of essentials such as towels, shampoo, sanitary napkins, baby rash cream, toothpaste, soap bars, tooth brushes, buckets for water, and washing powder.
The convoy’s destination was Qamishli, in north east Syria. It will provide aid to 25,000 children in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.
A few hours after we arrived, we got the green light from the Syrian authorities to start moving the trucks into Syria. UNICEF trucks slowly drove through a small metal gate. I walked behind them on a dirt road in the middle of green fields thinking to myself how beautiful the scenery was and that in normal days before the war people would be having picnics rather than waiting patiently for an aid convoy.
It was only a fence that separated humanitarian assistance from reaching children in need in Syria. Humanitarian assistance should be much simpler; the children of Syria need more convoys like the one we had today. Access to areas we could not access for long months should be facilitated. We have about one million children living under siege and in areas that are hard to reach inside Syria. They suffered way too much and we need to reach them with aid.
In coming days, UNICEF plans to send 17 trucks from Turkey to Syria.