In recent days, new harsh photos and videos are coming from the Syrian town of Madaya, showing the desperate situation prevailing there.
Madaya – a former known resort town – is located close to the Lebanease border, about 40 kilometers northwest of Damascus.
As part of the struggle with the Syrian rebels to hold the border area, Syrian army troops and Hezbollah have besieged the town for half a year.
Currently, about 40 thousand people live in Madaya. About half of them came from the nearby town of al-Zabadani, after fleeing from their homes following the fierce battles for control of this important border town.
Three months ago, hundreds of mines have been scattered around Madaya by regime forces alnong with barbed wires in order to isolate it.
The long siege led to severe shortages of basic products (including milk for babies) and to skyrocketing prices. For example, the price of one kilo of rice has reached $100. The last delivery of food entered the town three months ago.
In order to exist, and in the absence of substantial assistance from outside, the residents are forced to eat leaves and grasses to break their hunger.
The advent of winter (with snow that fell last week) exacerbated the difficulties of the inhabitants, cut off from electricity.
According to reports from within Madaya, 23 people died last month, including six children – some of them from malnutrition, while others were hit by mines or snipers scattered around the city during their efforts to look for food. Since the beginning of the blockade, 70 people died of starvation.
Media images show people (including children), who look like skeletons in a state of severe malnutrition. Among the many pictures, that come throughout social networks – you can also see people searching in the garbage to find food, and children who eat a dish made of leaves. According to the data collected, more than 300 children suffer from malnutrition and poor medical condition.
The siege is intended to serve as a bargaining chip by the Syrian regime and Hezbollah in order to loosen the Syrian rebels’ blockade on Kefraya and Al-Foua – two Shiite towns in the Idlib province (northwest Syria).
Al-Zabadani Agreement, which was signed between the parties with UN mediation in order to resolve the impasse in al-Zabadani and the two northern towns, has been implemented last week. Under the terms of the agreement, Madaya was supposed to receive humanitarian assistance, but the aid has not yet come. However, Red Cross argues that it endeavoers to bring food and medical aid to Madaya in the coming days.