Starving besieged Syrian towns to receive aid
A six month blockade of Madaya by the Syrian army and Hezbollah has trapped about 40,000 residents now enduring a harsh winter
Humanitarian groups could begin delivering much-needed aid in three besieged Syrian towns as early as Sunday, spokesmen said on Friday.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said they were preparing convoys packed with food and medical supplies for suffering populations in the towns of Madaya, al-Foua and Kefraya.
As Syria reels from civil war, a six-month-long blockade of Madaya by the Syrian army and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, has trapped about 40,000 residents now enduring a harsh winter.
Further north, the villages of al-Foua and Kefraya, in the Idlib governorate, are home to some 20,000 residents under siege by armed opposition groups.
Twenty-three people have died of starvation in Madaya since Dec. 1 at health centers supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the global medical aid group said.
Aid deliveries could start on Sunday or Monday as documentation is being prepared, said Pawel Krzysiek, a spokesman for the ICRC in Syria, speaking from Damascus.
The trips could be dangerous as the convoys cross battle lines, he said.
“Basically we’ll be crossing from the territory controlled by one side to the territory controlled by another,” Krzysiek said. “As you can imagine it is always a very, very sensitive operation.”
The first U.N. convoy could set off as early as Sunday, said WFP spokeswoman Abeer Etefa.
Urgently needed supplies include medicine and baby formula because mothers of infants are not lactating due of hunger, said Krzysiek.
The WFP will distribute such staples as rice, vegetable oil, flour, sugar, salt and canned food.
Blockades have been a common feature of the nearly five-year-old civil war that has killed an estimated 250,000 people, with government forces besieging rebel-held areas and rebel groups blockading loyalist areas.
Siege warfare has been used in Syria “in a ruthlessly coordinated and planned manner” with the aim of “forcing a population, collectively, to surrender or suffer starvation,” a U.N. commission of inquiry has said.
A U.N. Security Council resolution adopted on Dec. 18 setting out a road map for peace talks called on the parties to allow aid agencies unhindered access throughout Syria, particularly in besieged and hard-to-reach areas.
A newly formed opposition council set up to oversee negotiations has said aid must be delivered before talks that are planned for Jan. 25.
This will be the second humanitarian convoy reaching the three towns. The first took place in October.
Starving besieged Syrian towns to receive aidA six month blockade of Madaya by the Syrian army and Hezbollah has trapped about 40,000 residents now enduring a harsh winter Middle East
In starving Syrian town Madaya, peace talks seen as pointlessAt least 10 people have died of starvation in Madaya in the past six weeks, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Features
Syria government to allow aid into besieged MadayaThe U.N. is preparing to deliver humanitarian assistance in the coming days, a statement said Middle East
Up to 26 dead as Syria regime, rebels trade fireGovernment and rebel bombardment killed up to 26 civilians and wounded dozens in the Syrian capital and a nearby opposition bastion Middle East
Syria bloodshed: Will it only get worse in 2016?No progress can be made in ending the conflict if the resolutions already made are continuously abandoned Middle East
Syrian regime ‘profits from disappearances’Nearly 60,000 civilians are believed to have been ‘disappeared’ since Syria’s conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011 Middle East
U.N. concerned over civilians in Syria’s ZabadaniU.N. Syria envoy De Mistura said the military had dropped a large number of barrel bombs on the city causing many deaths Middle East
U.N. envoy condemns Syria civilian deaths at end of tripThe United Nations peace envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, ended a three-day trip condemning the deaths of civilians in both government and rebel fire Middle East
Regime bombs kill 71 civilians in Syria’s AleppoThe barrel bombs were dropped on the city of Al-Bab and in eastern neighbourhoods of Aleppo Middle East