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Madaya, Syria, under siege

“We can’t take it anymore. Why is there no help for us?”

Khaled, Madaya.

It seems that there is no sense of shame, no humanity, no sense of outrage in the face of the psychopathically inhuman that can break the will of those who are prepared to actively engage in forcing the citizens of a town starve to death.
Madaya (Arabic: مضايا‎‎) is a small town in Syria, in the mountains about 25 miles from Damascus. In 2004 Madaya had a population of 9,371 – most Sunni Muslims. Madaya was a place where people went on holiday. It wasn’t self-sufficient, it was a tourist town, up in the mountains, where there is snow in winter.

  • Since July 2015, the town has been besieged by a combination of Syrian forces loyal to the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the allied Lebanese militia Hezbollah.
  • By May 20-16 65 people had died of starvation in Madaya. 65 people.
  • Madaya has no doctors.
  • Madaya has no medical facilities.
  • There has been a serious outbreak of meningitis. there are no vaccinations, no drugs.
  • Madaya’s population is swollen to 40,000 people.
  • There has been no food for months.
  • People have been eating grass, insects, plants, cats, anything.
  • Save the Children have reported that several children have attempted suicide.
  • Madaya has no heating, people are dying of cold.
  • This little town never had a hospital – until late last year it had a small clinic, staffed by a veterinarian, a nurse and a dental student. The nurse escaped and fled after Hezbollah threats suggested he was a target. The other two, after months of doing their utmost to save lives, taking instruction on how to operate over the phone, even reportedly performing a Caesarean section, they announced they had to close the clinic. There was nothing in it any more, nothing they could do.
  • On February 17th Twitter spread news that a woman had died in childbirth in Madaya, along with her baby.
  • The bombardment of Madaya continues daily.
  • No convoys have got into Madaya at all since November 2016.

Siege is being used as a weapon of war in Syria. This is a breach of the Geneva convention, a war crime. The purpose of this siege seems to be mass punishment.
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria is appealing to all parties to reach an agreement for immediate access to Madaya and to the other three besieged towns of Al-Zabadani, Al-Fu’ah, and Kafraya.

The only reason the convoys can’t take food in is that government and Hezbollah forces won’t allow it.
The UN say that across the four towns sixty thousand innocent people are trapped in a cycle of daily violence and deprivation, where malnutrition and lack of proper medical care prevail.

Mr. Ali Al-Za’tari, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, stated this week that the situation is a looming humanitarian catastrophe.

“The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator urges all directly involved forces and all parties which have influence on them to convince them to allow urgent humanitarian assistance, including medical evacuations, to take place without delay. The moral and ethical accountability befalls all those who hinder this access. The UN and humanitarian partners are ready to provide humanitarian assistance to the Four Towns as soon as negotiations with these parties to the conflict come to fruition.”

For further information, if there is anything you can do to influence anyone, contact:

Linda Tom, Public Information Officer, toml@un.org Tel: +963 958 880 095
Dr. Khaled Al Masri, UN Communication and Media Analyst, khalid.al-masri@one.un.org Tel: +963 991 206 555

OCHA press releases are available at http://www.unocha.org or http://www.reliefweb.int

And meanwhile, email the Russian embassy in whatever country you are in. Phone them. Fax them. Ask them to apply any pressure that they can to ease this situation. Tell them this is a war crime. Ask them to allow in the food. tell them that if the accounting for this ever comes to the International Criminal Court, as history suggests it might, how individuals act to try to continue or to break this siege will be remembered.

Note the Syrian embassy in London is closed: the ambassador was expelled in 2012.

Russian Embassy:
6/7 Kensington Palace Gardens, London, W8 4QP

 

Telephone Embassy: +44 (0) 20 7229 6412
Fax Embassy: +44 (0) 20 7727 8625

Internet: http://www.rusemb.org.uk
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/russianembassy
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/russianembassy
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Russian-Embassy-in-London/279167575450403
E-Mail:
bilateralrelations@rusemb.org.uk – Russia-UK relations queries
foreignpolicy@rusemb.org.uk – Foreign policy queries

 

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