Relief supplies reach besieged Syrian town

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A humanitarian convoy has finally reached the besieged Syrian town of Madaya with life-saving health and food supplies from the United Nations and its partners for the 42,000 desperate residents after reports of people starving to death, the UN News Centre said on Monday.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria Yacoub El Hillo said it has taken long and patient negotiations with many parties to facilitate the convoy, whose first trucks are now being unloaded to start relieving a situation that UN officials last week called ‘horrendous, ghastly’, noting that deliberate starvation of civilians amounts to war crimes.

At the same time, trucks have left Damascus for Kafraya and Foah, two towns under siege by opposition forces, where the inhabitants are also in desperate need as the war between the Government and a whole spectrum of rebel forces approach the start of its sixth year.

The inter-agency convoy to Madaya brought life-saving items, including health, nutrition and food supplies, blankets, shelter materials, and soap for people. The non-government group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said 23 people starved to death in the town in December, six of them children, and people trying to leave have been reported to have been killed.

Hillo noted that while there is much focus on Madaya, where the situation requires an immediate response, the UN and its humanitarian partners are equally concerned about the 4.5 million people living in besieged and hard-to-reach area across Syria.

"We continue to call on all parties to facilitate sustained and unimpeded access to all people in besieged and hard-to-reach areas in Syria," he stressed.

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