We must listen to witnesses on the ground who are seeing abuse, duplicity, and the dereliction of duty firsthand. Our lives depend on their voices being heard. The op-ed by Sean Thomas, International Director of Investigations at Animal Equality.
Syria, Red Cross enters besieged city of Madaya
A Red Cross aid convoy has arrived in the besieged city of Madaya, in Syria. 400 people could be evacuated.
The news came in the afternoon of the 11th of January. A Red Cross aid convoy succeeded in entering Madaya, just dozens of kilometres from the Syrian capital Damascus and the border with Lebanon. Facing a six-month siege perpetrated by President Bashar Al-Assad’s army, the city is facing devastating conditions. Humanitarian organisations have been unable to supply aid to its 42,000 residents, literally reduced to famine, since October. It was only in the beginning of January that the Syrian regime authorised the entry of aid convoys again.
Disturbing images of naked, defenseless and undernourished bodies, headed by the wide eyes of children who haven’t eaten in days, were seen all over the world. According to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) up 23 people have died of starvation since the beginning of December. Almost no one in the city is able to procure food: prices have spiked and a kilo of flour costs over $100 according to local sources.
— Pawel Krzysiek (@PKrzysiekICRC) 11 Gennaio 2016
People are eating leaves off trees to survive. A 17-year-old resident told the AFP agency: “For 15 days we have been eating only soup. I saw a young man killing cats. Some people went through garbage bins, others ate grass. We sought food from the fighters but they refused to give it to us”. “Two trucks loaded with food and blankets entered Madaya around 17.00 (local time)” said a Syrian Red Cross representative.
In the meantime the first images of the aid convoy appeared on social media. Similarly, three trucks entered Fua and another three made their way into Kefraya, two Shiite Muslim villages surrounded by rebel forces in the province of Idleb, over three hundred kilometres from Damascus.
— ICRC Syria (@ICRC_sy) 11 Gennaio 2016
According to Pawel Krzysiek, International Committee of the Red Cross spokesperson in Syria, a total of 44 vehicles have been prepared to supply aid to the population of Madaya and another 21 are destined to reach other cities. The Red Crescent Society and United Nations are also participating in the operation, which will provide people with medicine and milk for babies too.
However, this won’t be enough to give relief to those in the most dire conditions. Stephen O’Brien, responsible for UN humanitarian operations in the country explained that around four hundred people “are in grave peril of losing their lives” and could be evacuated in the next few hours.
Featured image taken from Twitter.
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