Starvation in Syria: Deaths in Madaya where residents were reportedly ‘eating grass’

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At least 28 people in the Syrian town of Madaya died of starvation and residents resorted to “eating grass” before the regime of President Bashar Assad agreed to a deal with anti-regime rebels to deliver aid, sources say.

Pawel Krzysiek, spokesperson for the Red Cross in Syria, told Al Jazeera on Jan. 11 that aid convoys have started to enter Madaya. It is the first delivery of aid to the town since October.

Over 40,000 people in Madaya, Syria have little or no access to food.
Over 40,000 people in Madaya, Syria have little or no access to food.

Madaya, located west of Damascus and near the Lebanese border, is under siege by pro-Assad and Hizbullah forces.

Doctors Without Borders reported that at least 28 people, including six children under one year of age, have died from hunger-related causes in Madaya during the siege and another 250 people were suffering from acute malnutrition. Five people – a nine-year-old boy and four men older than 45 – died on Jan. 10 of suspected malnutrition, according to medics working with MSF.

Sources said an estimated 42,000 people in Madaya have little or no access to food and many have resorted to “eating grass.”

In Kefraya and Foua, Nusra Front and other rebel groups have cut off about 12,500 people from access to aid supplies, the sources said.

The United Nations estimates some 400,000 people are living under siege in 15 areas across Syria and have limited access to food.

Sharif Nashashibi, a London-based analyst of Arab political affairs, said that the government-imposed sieges in amount to “war crimes.”

“These sieges don’t just wear down the fighters, it also causes them to see the population around them suffering and raises the concern that the population could turn against them,” he told Al Jazeera. “The government is collectively punishing the population of that area because of the presence of ‘enemy’ fighters.”