Starving people of Madaya expecting aid

UN to provide humanitarian aid to besieged Syrian city of Madaya on Monday, after agreement with regime forces following media campaign to save civilians starving to death

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Syrian children carry placards as they call for the lifting of the siege off Madaya and Zabadani towns in Syria, in front of the offices of the U.N. headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon December 26, 2015

Updated Jan 11, 2016

Humanitarian aid will reportedly reach the besieged Syrian city of Madaya on Monday, Jan. 11 after an international show of sympathy on behalf of children and civilians starving to death there.

The United Nations said on Thursday that it reached an agreement with the Syrian regime which will enable it to deliver aid to Madaya.

The UN is now preparing to provide aid to Madaya on Monday, as well as assistance to two other towns in the Syrian province of Idlib, Fouaa and Kefrayya, which are besieged by rebel groups.

The deal came after the photos of starving people and children in the region created an international outcry and placed increased pressure on the Assad regime.

"We are particularly concerned about the plight of nearly 400,000 people besieged by parties to the conflict in locations such as Deir Ez-Zor city, Daraya, Fouaa and Kafreyya, as well as besieged areas of East Ghouta," the UN said in a statement quoting Yacoub El Hillo, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Syria, and Kevin Kennedy, regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis.

Access to Madaya and nearby Zabadani have been restricted by pro-regime forces, while Fouaa and Kafreyya are surrounded by anti-government fighters.

More than 20,000 children in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya are at risk of further hunger and starvation, the United Nations Children's Fund said on Friday.

"In the last year, only 10 percent of all requests for UN inter-agency convoys to hard-to-reach and besieged areas were approved and delivered," the UN said.

According to the UN, up to 4.5 million people in Syria live in hard-to-reach areas, including nearly 400,000 people in 15 besieged locations who do not have access to the life-saving aid they urgently need.

At least 23 people died of starvation last month in the town of Madaya besieged by the regime, a Madaya health committee report revealed.

"Almost 42,000 people remaining in Madaya are at risk of further hunger and starvation," the UN said.

It said it has “received credible reports of people dying from starvation and being killed while trying to leave.”

On January 5, a 53-year-old man reportedly died of starvation while his family of five continues to suffer from severe malnutrition.

Living conditions in the town further deteriorated as winter set in. Electricity is non-existent and many people use what is left of their destroyed homes for heating purposes, the report said.

According to local sources in Syria, food prices shot up dramatically since the regime’s blockade began. A kilogram of rice reportedly now costs around $115.

Madaya last received humanitarian assistance in October but has since been inaccessible "despite numerous requests," according to a statement from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The Syrian conflict, which will enter its fifth year in early 2016, has left more than 260,000 people dead and turned the country into the world's largest source of refugees and displaced persons, according to the UN.

Over eight million victims are internally displaced and about 4.4 million have fled the country since the conflict started.

TRTWorld and agencies