UN Wants Access to Besieged Areas in Syria

Photo: UNICEF / Amer Al Shami
Photo: UNICEF / Amer Al Shami

The UN calls for unimpeded humanitarian access to reach those in need in hard-to-reach and besieged areas in Syria, according to a statement issued Thursday.

“We are particularly concerned about the plight of nearly 400,000 people besieged by parties to the conflict in locations such as Deir Ez- Zor city, Daraya, Foah and Kafraya, as well as besieged areas of East Ghouta,” said Yacoub El Hillo, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria.

In the last year, only 10 per cent of all requests for UN inter-agency convoys to hard-to-reach and besieged areas were approved and delivered.

Almost 42,000 people remaining in Madaya are at risk of further hunger and starvation. The UN has received reports of people dying from starvation and being killed while trying to leave.

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Up to 4.5 million people in Syria live in hard-to-reach areas including nearly 400,000 people in 15 besieged locations who do not have access to the life-saving aid they urgently need.

The ongoing conflict continues to hamper the humanitarian response and freedom of movement is restricted by the presence of armed actors and landmines.

Madaya last received a joint UN/SARC / ICRC convoy on 18 October 2015 and medical evacuations in December, but has been inaccessible since then despite numerous requests for access.

Meanwhile, the UN welcomed the recent approval from the Government of Syria to access Madaya, Foah and Kefraya and is preparing to deliver humanitarian assistance in the coming days.

International humanitarian law prohibits the targeting of civilians. It also prohibits the starvation of civilians as a tactic of war. The UN calls for immediate humanitarian access to all hard-to-reach and besieged areas and for the facilitation of safe evacuation of civilians.

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Rakesh Raman