Middle East

Syria's besieged on verge of humanitarian crisis

Residents of 13 Syrian towns and villages under siege by Assad regime and its allies now at risk of starvation, say local sources

Hatice Vildan Topaloğlu   | 13.01.2016
Syria's besieged on verge of humanitarian crisis

Syria

DAMASCUS

 The residents of at least 13 Syrian towns and villages under siege by the Assad regime and its allies now face the specter of starvation, according to local sources.

Jayrud, Rabayah

Opposition-held Jayrud and Rabayah, both located in eastern Damascus, face frequent attacks by both the Assad regime and Daesh. Both towns have remained under a regime-imposed blockade since April 2013.

Abu Kamal, a local opposition commander, told Anadolu Agency that 85 percent of the recent deaths in the town had been caused by attacks by regime forces or Daesh.

The city of Al-Dumayr, located some 40 kilometers northeast of Damascus, also remains under a regime-imposed blockade.

 Eastern Ghouta, Al-Tall

The Eastern Ghouta region to the east of Damascus, meanwhile, has remained under a regime-imposed siege since December 2012, which has impeded delivery of humanitarian aid and deprived the region of electricity and water supplies.

According to a local coordination committee in Eastern Ghouta’s Douma area, some 1,600 local residents have recently died, with an estimated 40 percent of the casualties having been caused by regime airstrikes and the rest blamed on malnutrition.

The Assad regime attacked the Eastern Ghouta region with sarin gas in August 2013, causing some 1,300 deaths among local residents.

The city of Al-Tall, meanwhile, located west of Eastern Ghouta, has also remained under a regime-imposed siege since June 2015.

Yarmouk Camp, Darayya, Muadamiyat al-Sham, Kanaker

The Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp has been blockaded by the regime since December 2012.

Many inhabitants of the camp, which is surrounded by Daesh from the south, have recently moved to Turkey’s Hatay province or to the Syrian provinces of Hama, Idlib and Aleppo.

More than 1,000 civilians have been killed in the camp since the Syrian conflict began in early 2011.

Darayya on the southern outskirts of Damascus has also remained under a regime-imposed blockade since late 2012. By July 2015, when the siege entered its 1,000th day, some 2,200 residents had died as a result of the siege or from attacks by the regime.

Local sources say around 1,000 barrel bombs -- improvised explosive devices -- have been dropped on the region by the Assad regime.

In the town of Muadamiyat al-Sham in southwestern Damascus, meanwhile, some 40,000 civilians have remained under total siege for the last 15 days.

With food not allowed to enter the town, residents say child mortality has skyrocketed due to widespread malnutrition.

The village of Kanaker, meanwhile, located southwest of Damascus, has remained under siege since March 2015.

Al-Waer, Houla, Talbiseh, Al-Rastan

Al-Waer, a central district of Syria’s Homs province, also reportedly remains under a regime-imposed blockade.

During the siege of Homs from 2011 to 2015, which ended with the region being handed over to the Assad regime, some 150 people died of malnutrition and an acute lack of medical treatment.

According to the Homs Coordination Center, some areas of Al-Waer are still under siege.

The Houla, Talbiseh and Al-Rastan regions in northern Homs, for their part, have all remained under siege for the last three years.

Madaya

Spanish Ambassador to the UN Roman Oyarzun Marchesi recently quoted UN humanitarian affairs chief Stephen O'Brien as saying that some 400 people in the town of Madaya were in "very critical situation".

This week, a humanitarian aid convoy reached the regime-blockaded town, carrying food and medical supplies for Madaya’s 42,000 residents who were starving to death.

Last month, 23 people, including six children, died of starvation in the town, according to a report issued by Madaya’s local health committee.

"The humanitarian crisis in Madaya is one more sign of the Assad regime’s brutality," U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power asserted in a recent statement. "Blocking aid in order to starve civilians is grotesque, and one more reason why Assad’s supporters should recognize that he has lost legitimacy."

The ongoing conflict in Syria, which will enter its sixth year in early 2016, has left more than 250,000 people dead and turned the country into the world's largest source of refugees and displaced persons, according to the UN.

Since the conflict began, nearly 8 million people have been internally displaced, while more than 4 million have fled to neighboring countries.

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