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UN agency says it provided food for record 4.1 million people inside Syria in August

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BEIRUT — The World Food Program provided assistance to a record 4.1 million people inside Syria last month, reaching more of those in need with shipments traversing borders and front lines, the agency said Tuesday.

Syria's civil war has touched off a massive humanitarian crisis, with some 10.8 million people in need of assistance, including 4.7 million in hard-to-reach areas, according to the U.N.

Getting humanitarian aid to them has proven a massive challenge for the international community. The Syrian government refused to allow the U.N. to ship assistance to those in need without Damascus' approval, ensuring that rebel-held areas remained off-limits.

That changed in July with a U.N. Security Council resolution that authorized the movement of humanitarian aid to Syrians in opposition areas without government approval. The aid is moved through border crossings with Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.

In a statement released Tuesday, the World Food Program said that over the last six weeks it and its partners have reached more than 580,000 people with deliveries that have crossed across battle lines — four times higher than the number in the preceding six weeks.

The August figures include five cross-border convoys that delivered rice, lentils, oil, pasta and other staples for 69,500 in difficult zones to reach in Aleppo, Idlib, Quneitra and Daraa provinces.

"We are reaching more people every day with urgently needed food assistance — many of them have been going hungry for months," said Muhannad Hadi, WFP's Regional Emergency Coordinator for Syria.

"We will build on these gains in the coming weeks and months and hope that all parties to the conflict will continue to facilitate our access to the women, children and families that remain out of our reach behind conflict lines."

The U.N. agency said fighting and security concerns continue to hamper access to many areas, particularly in Hassakeh, Deir el-Zour and Raqqa provinces.

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