During the week of the 14 December, the Maram foundation trucked tents in two vehicles from the Turkish border towards Latakia province in Syria to provide shelter for the increasing number of people displaced by air raids. When they saw Russian bombers approaching the road, the aid workers stopped the trucks and ran way. After an hour, when the jets had disappeared, the staff dared to return to their vehicles and continued their journey. While neither the aid workers nor their cargo was hit in this case, the incident illustrates the fear among aid workers and the resulting delays in the delivery of aid when explosive weapons are insight near major supply routes during intensified air campaigns that cause civilian casualties, damage civil infrastructure and trigger displacement.
The Maram Foundation, like all aid agencies, is concerned about the safety of their aid workers and introduced added security measures for the supply trips into Syria. They no longer travel in convoy but leaving a few kilometres between trucks. They no longer take the vehicle directly to the warehouse. This has slowed down distribution. The cumulative effect of security measures introduced across the board by aid agencies in response to the intensified bombing resulted into a sharp decline in the quantity of aid delivery. According to Mercy Corps, one of the largest aid agencies working in Syria distributing aid with the help of local partners, the organisation’s ability to transport and distribute food fell by 80% since the number and severity of air strikes increased over Northwest Syria following the downing of the Russian plane by Turkey on 24 November 2015. Commercial suppliers, who use the same routes, experience identical threats and have taken similar measures. The result are food and other shortages in Syria. Armed fighter jets overflying major supply routes, even if they never directly bomb the highway, have a devastating effect on aid agencies’ abilities to mitigate the effects of the use of explosive weapons on the civilian population.