Syria conflict: Siege warfare and suffering in Madaya

Marianne Gasser, from the International Committee of the Red Cross, writes: A cold rain was falling as the men carried the small bundle towards me. They were insisting I should take it.

A crowd had gathered. The only light came from the phones we carried; there had not been electricity for months.

The men stopped and slowly, carefully unwrapped the blanket. At first, I could not make out what was inside. Then it suddenly dawned on me that it was an old man.

He was wearing a jumper and black tracksuit bottoms. His little stick legs dangled in the air. His mouth lolled open. His eyes stared into nothingness.

He was hovering between life and death. The men looked at me expectantly. But there was nothing we could do.

A couple of hours earlier, we had entered the town of Madaya. An hour’s drive from the Syrian capital, Damascus, the town had been under siege for months.

Tortuous negotiations had taken place to gain access to this, and other, besieged towns. Now, my organisation, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), along with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the UN, had been allowed to bring in much-needed aid.

But Madaya is just one of dozens, if not hundreds, of places in Syria where humanitarian assistance is desperately needed. There is a colossal level of suffering. [Continue reading…]

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