A woman waits to leave the besieged town of Madaya. © UNICEF/UN07228/Al Saleh, WFP
Madaya is by no means unique. Across Syria, civilian areas are being held under siege in 15 different locations by various parties to the conflict. Around 400,000 people have been trapped inside these areas, sometimes for years on end, with highly constrained access to food, clean water, health and other basic services. Lives have been lost as a result, among children and the elderly in particular.
Elsewhere in the country, more than four million people live in hard-to-reach areas with only sporadic access to humanitarian supplies.
“Siege and the denial of humanitarian access to civilians continue to be used as a tactic of war in violation of International Humanitarian Law. ”
Malnutrition is a particular threat to children and people with chronic diseases trapped in these areas, making them more vulnerable to disease and longer-term under-development. Meanwhile, mothers who are malnourished are more likely to have malnourished children.