The UN, which has gone to great lengths to get aid and supplies to 4.6 million Syrians living in hard-to-reach areas, helped trucks loaded with humanitarian aid to reach the towns of Madaya and Zabadani near the Lebanese border earlier this month.
According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, consignments of biscuits that were delivered had passed their sell-by date in September and could be the only cause of an outbreak of food poisoning among almost 200 residents who came to makeshift hospitals.
The biscuits were “moldy and rotten” and had been poorly stored, the watchdog said in an online report.
In a statement, the UN said 320 out of 650 boxes of the biscuits sent to Zabadani and Madaya as part of a relief convoy on October 18 had expired in September but denied that eating them posed a threat to health.
“We can confirm that this was the result of an unfortunate human error during the loading process,” said Yacoub El Hillo, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria.
He added that workers and humanitarian partners in Syria were “taking the issue very seriously and working to immediately rectify the situation.”