Madaya: UN aid chief calls for emergency evacuation

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By Euronews  with Reuters, AFP, UN News Service
Madaya: UN aid chief calls for emergency evacuation
  • UN calls for emergency evacuation
  • “Hundreds” need urgent attention
  • Syrian government denies blocking aid

The news

The head of humanitarian aid for the UN is calling for an emergency evacuation of the seriously malnourished from Madaya.

Stephen O’Brien estimates around 400 people in the besieged Syrian town need urgent medical treatment

An urgently-called meeting of the UN Security Council heard reports of people dying due to lack of food and medical attention.

The UN says the reports are credible.

“Around 400 people have been identified who must be evacuated immediately. We must seek to do this and put the arrangements in place as soon as at all possible for medical treatment or they are in grave peril of losing their lives.” said Mr O’Brien.

A UN Security Council resolution adopted on December the 18th set out a road map for peace talks and called on all the parties to allow aid workers unhindered access throughout Syria, particularly in beseiged and hard-to-reach areas.

“Starve or surrender”

The US Ambassador to the UN criticised the Syrian government for its role in the crisis.

Samantha Power said the Syrian government has resorted to “grotesque starve-or-surrender tactics against its own people.”

“There are hundreds of thousands of people being deliberately besieged, deliberately starved, right now. And these images, they remind us of World War Two.”

Power was also speaking at the special session of the 193-nation UN General Assembly.

“False information” – Syrian government

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afaritold reporters in New York his government was committed to “cooperate fully” on aid delivery but said much of what was said about Madaya is based on “false information.”

He dismissed pictures of starving people as “fabrications.”

“There is no shortage of humanitarian assistance in Madaya,” he added, saying that some aid has been “looted” by armed terrorist groups.

“A desperate need for humanitarian intervention”

International aid supplies have finally arrived in the town, which is 25 kilometres from Damascus and has been under siege for six months.

The aid in facts

  • 44 lorries
  • Operated by the UN, ICRC, the Syrian Red Crescent and the WFP
  • Food, medicines, blankets, shelter, soap
  • 40,000 trapped by fighting
  • 28 dead from starvation – MSF
  • 250 with severe malnutrition – MSF

What they are saying

“Starving civilians is an inhuman tactic used by President Bashar al-Assad and their allies.” – British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft.

“There can be no credible political process without progress on the humanitarian front.” – French Ambassador Francois Delattre.