4 days, 16 trucks, 25,000 Syrian children

“We’re done,” shouted an excited aid worker from across the fence. Thumbs up. Colleagues who had very quickly become friends applauded and cheered.

We had just sent the last UNICEF truck. Truck number 16. Part of the first-ever UN humanitarian convoy that had gone from Turkey to Syria.

Over the past four days, I had been at the border on the Turkish side, working with colleagues to send trucks full of supplies to Al-Hasakeh in northeast Syria.

UNICEF supply truck entering Syria

On 22 March, a truck – part of a United Nations convoy bearing vital humanitarian supplies – crosses the border between the Turkish city of Nusaybin and the Syrian Arab Republic.

After long weeks of planning, coordination and persistence from the UN, we had finally managed.

Many had asked, sometimes cynically, over the past days: “What’s the big fuss?” “Why are you so excited?” “What difference will this make?”

The answer is it will make a difference to children in need who have become – sometimes overnight – displaced, and to the many families who have been generous and hosted people in need.

The supplies we sent can be life-saving, as basic as they sound. What are a towel, toothbrush, washing liquid, a bar of soap and a water purification tablet going to do?

They are super critical. They help children stay clean, help protect them from diseases, especially waterborne diseases and polio, and keep their teeth white and their faces smiley…

It’s important we keep sending aid to the children of Syria using every opportunity we can, even through the smallest of windows, crossing lines of fire and borders to deliver much-needed supplies.

Through this week’s convoy, we will reach 25,000 children. This is a drop in the ocean, when you think there are more than 5.5 million Syrian children in need as a result of a brutal civil strife that has claimed the lives of at least 10,000 children. But what a crucial drop it was, and many many more like these are needed, especially to reach the one million children who live under siege and who are caught in the line of fire.

Humanitarian aid will give Syria’s children a glimpse of hope.

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