UN demands immediate aid access to Syria’s besieged towns

United Nations: Calling sieges in Syria a “barbaric tactic,” the United Nations has demanded immediate access to besieged towns to deliver aid to civilians facing starvation.

“There can be no reason or rational, no explanation or excuse, for preventing aid from reaching people in aid,” UN aid official Kyung-Wha Kang yesterday told an emergency Security Council meeting on ending the blockades.

France and Britain requested the urgent talks after reports emerged of dozens of people who have died from starvation in the town of Madaya, where aid deliveries finally arrived this week.

Madaya’s 40,000 residents have been living under siege by pro-government forces for months.

“The barbarity of this tactic cannot be overstated,” Kang said.

UN teams are working to provide on-site treatment in Madaya and negotiate the evacuations of residents suffering from acute malnourishment, she said.

Nine people have been allowed to leave Madaya to receive treatment and 19 others are in need of urgent evacuation, she said.

The United Nations is struggling to deliver aid to about 4.5 million Syrians who live in hard-to-reach areas, including nearly 400,000 people in besieged areas.

Humanitarian aid access is seen as a key confidence-building measure ahead of the new round of Syrian peace talks planned for January 25 in Geneva.