26 Oct 2015
The United Nations has admitted that it has mistakenly sent a cargo of expired biscuits to Syria.
“We can confirm that this was the result of an unfortunate human error during the loading process,” said a Saturday statement by Yacoub El Hillo, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria.
Reports say nearly half of 650 boxes of high-energy biscuits sent to Zabadani and Madaya on October 18 had expired a month earlier. The cargo was part of a relief convoy for the citizens in the area, which is located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of the capital, Damascus.
The area has been the scene of fierce clashes between pro-government forces and militants of the Takfiri groups like the al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham. The conflicting sides agreed on a ceasefire in mid-October enabling the rare aid convoy to reach the residents of the two towns.
El Hillo said the UN team is taking the error “very seriously,” saying that efforts are underway to rectify the situation. He added that according to the tests by medical sources, the UN can confirm that expired biscuits pose no health threats in case they are consumed.
Earlier reports had raised concerns that children consuming the biscuits could become ill. El Hillo said, however, that the UN has requested the warring sides to allow the medical personnel into the cities so that they can examine and treat potential patients.