The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today that “Syrian government forces have laid siege for months to the town of Madaya, in Syria’s Rural Damascus Governorate, depriving roughly 20,000 residents of food and medicine and causing death by starvation.” MSF called for an immediate delivery of lifesaving medicine and medical evacuations, in addition to food supplies.
“The siege has tightened into a complete stranglehold. Twenty-three patients have died of starvation at an MSF-supported health center in Madaya since December 1,” MSF said.
“Madaya is now effectively an open-air prison for an estimated 20,000 people, including infants, children, and elderly,” said Brice de le Vingne, MSF director of operations. “The medics we support report injuries and deaths by bullets and landmines among people that tried to leave Madaya.”
MSF added that it “is extremely alarmed for the patients currently under treatment, and for the 20,000 residents who have had little to eat for months.”
“This is a clear example of the consequences of using siege as a military strategy,” de le Vingne said. “Now that the siege has tightened, the doctors we support have empty pharmacy shelves and increasing lines of starving and sick patients to treat. Medics are even resorting to feeding severely malnourished children with medical syrups, as they are the only source of sugar and energy, thereby accelerating the consumption of the few remaining medical supplies.”
“MSF has been supporting a medical facility and a food distribution point in Madaya since August 2015….but it has since become totally impossible to get anything through the siege lines,” the medical organization added.
“Below-freezing temperatures in this mountainous area are increasing the suffering, particularly for sick patients. Heating fuel must be included in aid to Madaya, as people trying to collect firewood are at risk of landmines and gunfire,” MSF added.
MSF also described conditions under which local medical staff are working as “unbearable,” and that the situation in Madaya is now deteriorating due to food insecurity. MSF called for “an immediate medical evacuation of sick patients to a safe place for treatment and for immediate and sustained access to lifesaving medical supplies for the civilian population in Madaya.” (Source: Syrian Coalition)