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Despite Syrian Cease Fire, Conditions Still Not Safe To Deliver Aid

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The gun and mortar fire are supposed to have stopped in Syria, at least for the most part and for the time being. There is now in place what's called a cessation of hostilities. It was agreed to by the U.S., Russia Bashar al-Assad's regime and many of his enemies. The U.N. says it offers the most hope for peace in Syria after five years of civil war. And for humanitarian organizations, it's a chance to get aid flowing into the country. Christy Delafield is with Mercy Corps. She was just at the Turkish border with Syria, where refugees have massed. She joins me now from Istanbul. Thanks so much for being with us.

CHRISTY DELAFIELD: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: What have you seen, Christy? Have you been able to discern whether or not the fighting has really stopped?

DELAFIELD: We have observed a cessation of some of the fighting for the moment. Of course, it's - you know, it's still early. In the coming days, we'll keep watching things and see how it develops. What we're really focused on as humanitarians is the second part of that agreement, this notion that there would be an opportunity for increased humanitarian access.

MARTIN: So what are you getting in terms of more access? Can you get to where you need to go and deliver the aid?

DELAFIELD: Well, at this point, that's the big question. NGOs like Mercy Corps are not included in this agreement. This is a negotiation to allow United Nations aid convoys into certain areas that are considered to be besieged. But the number of people that they're able to help, those aid convoys last week reached about 80,000 people. And in Syria overall, there are 13.5 million that are in urgent need of assistance.

MARTIN: So it's still too dangerous for your organization to get into Syria to do any humanitarian work.

DELAFIELD: And in this past week, we haven't seen an increase in areas that we're able to access.

MARTIN: Christy Delafield of Mercy Corps. She's senior global communications officer. Thanks so much, Christy.

DELAFIELD: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.