Aid agencies: One-off aid convoys won’t save starving Syrians

Right now, more than 4.5 million people in Syria live in besieged or hard to reach areas. People in these areas also desperately need assistance and protection, yet access to them keeps deteriorating.

January 11, 2016

International aid agencies working in Syria today expressed relief that a convoy of food aid and other first need items was finally allowed into Madaya where people have reportedly been dying of starvation. Aid is also today being delivered to other besieged areas including Fua’a and Kafraya. Agencies warned however that only a complete end to these sieges and guarantees for sustained aid deliveries alongside humanitarian services will alleviate the crisis in these areas.

Madaya’s estimated 42,000 inhabitants have been trapped with limited basic supplies and food prices rising astronomically every day. Today’s delivery will provide food for up to a month, according to the UN, but agencies warn that this one off permission to deliver will be insufficient given the current shocking reported levels of malnutrition.  Doctors in the town say that people’s average nutritional intake has fallen to 0.5 percent of what is needed, and local aid agencies report that more than 50 people have already died of starvation and lack of medical care. Civilians are still not allowed to move in or out of besieged areas, with accounts from people inside Madaya that at least eight people died while trying to smuggle food inside. The town’s last functioning hospital faces severe shortages of medical supplies with dozens of patients left to their fate.

Madaya is one of 15 areas across Syria under siege, with inhabitants restricted from leaving and aid workers blocked from bringing in food, medicine, fuel and other supplies. The eight agencies call for all parties to the conflict to end the siege of civilian areas and ensure permanent humanitarian access, and compliance with several UN Security Council Resolutions. Right now, more than 4.5 million people in Syria live in besieged or hard to reach areas. People in these areas also desperately need assistance and protection, yet access to them keeps deteriorating.

CARE International, Handicap International, International Rescue Committee, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, Save the Children, Syria Relief and Development, World Vision

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For interviews and further information please contact:

Melanie Gallant, Oxfam Canada, melanie.gallent@oxfam.ca, (613) 240-3047

Joelle Bassoul, Oxfam, jbassoul@oxfam.org.uk, +961 71525218

Alun McDonald, Save the Children, alun.mcdonald@savethechildren.org, +962 791 799 287

Karl Schembri, Norwegian Refugee Council, karl.schembri@nrc.no, +962 7902 20159