Red Cross and Red Crescent have finally been granted permission to enter and deliver aid to the besieged community of Madaya.
Monday January 11, 2016
Red Cross teams work around the clock in preparation for the first aid shipment to the besieged towns of Madaya, Zabadani, Foua and Kefraya. Photo: ICRC
Madaya is reported to be on the brink of starvation, with skeletal people drinking soup made from leaves and grass.
There have also been reports of people dying from starvation. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have not been able to visit Madaya since last October, when they found 40,000 people living with barely any food, water, electricity, and medicine.
ICRC spokesperson Dibeh Fakhr said she could not confirm directly the recent reports. "However, residents were desperate then and can only be more desperate now having received no aid for months."
"We saw pure hunger and despair in people's eyes," she said. "We saw mothers not able to breastfeed their new-born children because they lacked adequate food for themselves to produce milk."
At the time, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams provided two months' worth of medicine and food, but have had no access to Madaya since then.
"We also shouldn't forget that the people in Madaya make up only a fraction of the half-a-million people living in besieged or otherwise hard-to-reach areas in Syria," Ms Fakhr said.
"Our priority is to bring in aid to Madaya, Zabadani, Foua and Kefraya, all of which are besieged. This needs to be done as soon as possible to alleviate an already dire humanitarian situation."
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This story in The Guardian explains how Syrian Arab Red Crescent negotiates access to provide aid in armed conflicts.