UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations children’s fund UNICEF is alarmed at reports that some emergency food and other humanitarian aid was not reaching civilians in conflict-torn Syria due to theft by combatants, a U.N. spokesman said on Thursday.
The rebel Syrian National Coalition said that the Syrian army and allied fighters have been stealing relief items and distributing to their troops.
“UNICEF is extremely concerned at reports that some of its humanitarian supplies in Syria have not reached their intended destination,” U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters. He added that UNICEF was attempting to verify these reports and a photograph of boxes with U.N. and Red Crescent labels.
“In a time when so many children in Syria are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, it is absolutely vital that aid reaches children and families in need and not get diverted,” Haq said, adding that it is sometimes unavoidable in a conflict that U.N. is stolen.
The United Nations says some 220,000 people have been killed and an estimated 7.6 million are internally displaced due to the civil war, which broke out in 2011. Another 4 million have fled the country.
Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Lisa Shumaker