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Today’s Pickup: Water trucks deliver relief as Turkey pushes into Syria

UNICEF continues delivering thousands of gallons of water per day as relief agencies struggle to continue operating amid Turkish offensive into Kurdish-controlled territory.

A UNICEF water delivery in Syria. Photo: UNICEF/Fran Equiza via Twitter

Water trucks from UNICEF are providing a lifeline to civilians caught in Turkey’s offensive into northeastern Syria as aid agencies halt operations in the escalating violence. 

UNICEF partners began trucking 13,000 gallons of water per day to 4,000 people in shelters in Tel Tamer on October 15 after international non-governmental organizations pulled out. Meanwhile, a much larger water logistics effort is continuing at the Al-Hol refugee camp, which receives nearly 800,000 gallons per day, serving 64,000 women and children. 

More than 300,000 people have been displaced since Turkish forces pushed into Kurdish-controlled areas on October 9. The assault, which followed the pullout of U.S. forces, has severely constrained humanitarian relief efforts.  

Some refugees have fled to neighboring Iraq. Aid groups are preparing for an influx of up to 50,000 in the coming three months after the fighting intensifies in Syria, the Washington Post reported

Did you know?

Armored cars typically transport dimes, quarters and half-dollars, while tractor-trailers haul pennies and nickels. Read more about moving money in the latest installment of Freight of All Kinds


“So, our advice – the No. 1 priority – is that drivers keep themselves safe.”

– Duncan Buchanan, policy director of the U.K.’s Road Haulage Association, on the risks facing drivers in the post-Brexit chaos

In other news:

Owner of a trucking firm in fatal crash files for bankruptcy protection 

The owner of a Kentucky trucking company facing millions of dollars in claims from Tennessee crash that killed six has filed for bankruptcy protection. (

Startup looks to boost drone batteries with tiny jet engines

A Florida startup, UAV Turbines, is working on improving drone battery performance with a small jet engine. (Wired)

Azerbaijan wants to become a regional transport and logistics hub 

Azerbaijan is on course to become the biggest regional player in transportation and logistics, the country’s minister of transport said. (Azer News)

Police: Missing student had watched videos about hopping freight trains

A University of Portland student missing since October 6 had been watching videos about hopping freight trains, police said. (KATU-TV)

Rio De Janeiro governor floats restricting favela access to counter cargo theft

The governor of Rio De Janeiro has suggested restricting trucks from favelas to reduce cargo theft. (The Rio Times)

Final thoughts:

Using trucks to supply people with water is expensive, but it remains an important tool for rapidly deploying relief. In war-torn Yemen, tanker trucks play an important role in supplying water in certain urban areas. 

A 2018 analysis from the World Bank noted that private tanker trucks had filled a gap in the water supplies of the cities of Sana’a and Aden. The report, however, raised concerns about the reliability of water quality and market pricing. 

Hammer down everyone!

Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at [email protected]