In the mountain terrain that lies near the Lebanese border, just an hour’s drive to the north-west from Damascus and two from Beirut, much of Syrian towns are suffering from starvation, according to local and international humanitarian organizations. The war-torn Syrian town of Madaya is one of such horrible places: according to the United Nations, nearly 42,000 residents are trapped there, at least 28 people, including six children under the age of one, have died from hunger-related causes at a local clinic since Dec. 1. The United Nations refugee agency representative Sajjad Malik reported that there were from 300 to 400 people who had been severely malnourished and had to be immediately hospitalized.
Once popular mountain resort has been besieged for half a year by government forces aligned with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and their allies in Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement that cut the town off from the rest of the world. By “besieged” we mean completely cut off from any humanitarian aid: no access to medicine, food, or water supplies. By January, people had reduced to eating tree leaves and insects to stay alive. You could not meet any cat or dog in the town because they all had been eaten.
Late on Monday, Madaya’s residents received a chance to survive: an aid convoy finally reached the town, as well as two nearby Shia towns in Idlib province, Fouaa and Kefraya, carrying basic food, aid, and medicine for the second time this week. The convoy of 49 humanitarian assistance trucks entered Madaya under an international agreement.