8 January 2016
Red Cross aid workers stand ready to bring desperately needed aid to people in besieged areas in Syria.
As has been reported in recent days, people in the village of Madaya and a number of other areas are living in dire conditions.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), working alongside our partner the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), last visited Madaya in October.
They found 40,000 people living with barely any food, water, electricity, medicine or access to health care.
Red Cross and Red Crescent teams provided two months’ worth of medicine and food, but have had no access to Madaya since then.
The village is only 15 miles north-west of the capital Damascus.
Plans are being finalised for a joint aid operation to Madaya and other areas in the coming days.
Extremely concerning situation
“When we went to Madaya in October, we saw pure hunger and despair in people’s eyes,” said Dibeh Fakhr, spokesperson for the ICRC.
“We saw mothers not able to breastfeed their new-born children because they lacked adequate food for themselves to produce milk.”
Extremely concerning photos have emerged from Madaya in recent days showing malnourished people. There have also been reports of people dying from starvation.
“As we haven’t been able to access Madaya since October, we can’t confirm directly that people are dying from starvation,” added Fakhr.
“However, residents were desperate then and can only be more desperate now having received no aid for months. We are extremely worried for the people in Madaya.
“We also shouldn’t forget that the people in Madaya make up only a fraction of the half a million people living in besieged or otherwise hard-to-reach areas in Syria.
“Our priority, together with SARC, is to bring in aid to Madaya, Zabadani, Foua and Kefraya, all of which are besieged.
“This needs to be done as soon as possible to alleviate an already dire humanitarian situation.”
Joint aid operation
Gaining access to certain areas in Syria remains very challenging.
It involves long negotiations with all parties to the conflict, something that the ICRC and SARC are constantly doing.
An agreement has been reached to hopefully bring aid to Madaya, Foua, and Kefraya in the coming days.
It would be a joint operation between the ICRC, SARC and the UN.
“While we welcome the agreement for access to those areas, a one-off delivery won't solve the problem,” said Fakhr.
“Regular access to affected areas is needed.”
- Money raised from the British Red Cross Syria Crisis Appeal supports relief work in Syria and neighbouring countries. Please donate today.
- The British Red Cross delivers food aid through our partner the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. Find out more about our work in Syria