DAVID Cameron must allow RAF transport aircraft to drop vital aid into Syria, or risk another million refugees leaving the war-torn country bound for Europe, a medical charity has said.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations warned 18 communities in Syria were currently under siege, most by Government forces, their inhabitants starving.
These include Aleppo, where UN called the situation “catastrophic” this week after Syrian air strikes hit a hospital, killing at least 27 people and leaving the fragile cease-fire “hanging by a thread”.
“As Syrians and as Doctors, we cannot understand why all efforts are not being undertaken to reach all people in need,” said the letter.
“This despite the UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien encouraging Member States to explore all options to break the sieges, including through humanitarian aid drops.
“We cannot understand why our people are permitted to starve, when the international community could air drop aid and end starvation overnight.”
A C-17 Globemaster can drop 65 tonnes of aid in one run, while a C-130 Hercules can drop around 20 tonnes. Operation Shader, Britain’s effort against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, already uses one Hercules.
Both aircraft could be based at RAF Akrotiri, where British fighter jets and bombers are already stationed.
The United Nations has now begun to allow airdrops, particularly over the ISIS-besieged city of Deir Ez Zour, though the UK is yet to take part.
Tonight Whitehall sources told the Express that, while the Government has not ruled out air drops, they were being hampered by fear is some quarters of an aircraft being downed by ISIS, Russian or Syrian forces.
Others cited fears lack of accuracy would result in the aid ending up in the wrong hands, and that air drops would send “the wrong signal” that coalition forces were giving up on land convoys.
In addition sources said air drops were not a solution by themselves, with limits on the amount if water that could be dropped, for instance.
Fears RAF aircraft could be shot down have been rejected tonight.
“Britain has led the field in precision airdrops using GPS-guided pallets,” said UOSSM advisor Col Hamish de Bretton Gordon last night.
“It’s something we learned in Afghanistan and a skill we have honed. It means our aircraft would be able to drop aid from as high as 30,000 ft, far beyond the range of the Chinese-built S-300 anti-aircraft missiles with Syrian forces have been given by Russia.
"This is a point that seems not to be registering with the Government.
“Road convoys are all well and good but a single journey can carry 100 tonnes. That amount can be dropped in just two hours by aircraft. And if some did stray and find itself in the wrong hands, so what? It’s humanitarian aid, not weapons.
“If the UK doesn’t act, and soon, we will see another million refugees forced to leave their home and make their way for Europe.”
Richard Benyon MP added: “It used to be that pallets dropped from high altitudes landed across three football fields, but that all changed in Afghanistan. Now we can drop them into the goalmouth. There absolutely must be a way of making this work. If it requires allowing Russian troops to inspect the RAF transporters to assure them that they contain only humanitarian aid, and not weapons, I say let them.”
A Government spokesman confirmed Downing Street was still considering its formal reply to the letter, adding: “The UK is helping get food to besieged, starving Syrians by road, coordinated by UN agencies and others who can make sure it gets to those in need. Airdrops cannot operate effectively.”