Eastern Aleppo has been under siege for about a hundred days. Food stocks are running out. Prices are up twentyfold. Medical and civil defence equipment destroyed by the Syrian regime and Russian bombing cannot be replaced. The injured cannot be treated and are being sent home without painkillers. The dead are carried to graveyards on food carts.
Aleppo needs immediate humanitarian and medical assistance. The only solution is to help remotely by deploying a Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS), a system that uses steerable parachutes. Parachutes have been used by the Russian and Syrian air forces to drop bombs, such as the parachute-retarded ODAB-500PM, on civilian areas of the besieged city. Parachutes should be used to send urgently needed food and medical aid instead.
The JPADS system uses cargo planes that can carry approximately 20 packages, each of about 500kgs (1,100 pounds). The aircraft can fly at an altitude of up to 35,000 feet and make their drops from as much as 100 kilometers (60 miles) from their targets. Every unit is equipped with a camera and a navigation system that can be controlled from the plane. Its margin of error is only 50 to 75 meters (160 to 250 feet). This system has been used by the United States and Britain since 1993.
On Monday, over 120 members of the U.K. parliament have urged their government to authorize airdrops. But when Labour MP Alison McGovern read out a statement by the White Helmets calling “to airdrop aid to provide urgent relief to the starving civilians trapped,” Tory government minister Tobias Ellwood questioned if this was the best and safest way. But history shows that JPADS are both feasible and very safe.
As politicians debate, civilians in Aleppo die of hunger and their wounds. There has been a shameful indifference towards imposing a no-fly zone that could still save thousands of lives. Let’s not make safe airdrops of aid another missed opportunity. The citizens of the free world must urge their governments and representatives to act now.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Syria Deeply.
This article was originally published by the Aleppo Project and is reprinted here with permission.