Syria agrees to food aid for starving rebel-held town, UN says

The New York Times reports: Amid mounting international dismay over reports of starvation deaths and images of skeletally thin children in the besieged, rebel-held Syrian town of Madaya, the Syrian government agreed Thursday to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations.

But no firm date was set, and senior United Nations officials said that while they welcomed the government’s decision to allow the aid to enter, 42,000 people in Madaya remained “at risk of further hunger and starvation, citing “credible reports of people dying from starvation and being killed while trying to leave.”

The announcement came after Syrian opposition leaders issued a blistering statement declaring that silence and inaction from powerful nations and international organizations made them “complicit in starving civilians.” In recent days, Syrians had mounted a social media campaign sharing painful photos and videos: an 8-year-old boy who said he had not eaten for 10 days and longed for sweets; the shriveled body of a man who starved to death, his rib cage jutting out over a caved-in stomach.

Numerous residents of Madaya interviewed in recent days described living on grass and leaves, and seeing family members dying of hunger or killed by snipers as they tried to escape the town, which is surrounded by pro-government forces, primarily from Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite group that is allied with the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. [Continue reading…]

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