Siege has led to unprecedented reports of children dying of malnutrition-related causes only a few miles from Bashar al-Asad’s palace.
Death, displacement and disease have been the legacy of the violence unleashed in Syria after the Asad regime responded with force to peaceful anti-government protests two and a half years ago. Now hunger has been added to the list of horrors suffered by Syria’s civilians.
Save the Children, a leading non-governmental organization that assists children in need around the world, recently released a report saying a lack of access to food, soaring prices and a collapse in food production have left the children of Syria at risk of malnutrition. The Financial Times reports that a fatwa allowing Muslims to eat dogs and cats has been issued by a cleric in rebel-held areas of south Damascus.
Aid workers have long complained that desperately needed humanitarian aid is not getting through to many areas in the country, especially those living in rebel-held territory, where Syrian authorities have restricted access.
One such place is the town of Mouadimiya, south of Damascus, which has been under siege by Asad regime forces for 10 months.
In a press statement, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said,”The United States strongly condemns the Syrian regime’s continued siege of Ghouta and other Damascus suburbs, especially the town of Mouadimiya, and calls on the regime to allow immediate and unfettered humanitarian access to these areas. This siege has led to unprecedented reports of children dying of malnutrition-related causes in areas that are only a few miles from Bashar al-Asad’s palace in Damascus.”
Ms. Psaki noted reports that the Syrian government has allowed a limited number of civilians to evacuate from these areas, but, she said, “This is no substitute for allowing desperately needed food, water and medicine to reach the thousands of trapped civilians who remain under siege.”
“We also warn the regime not to repeat the massacres of Houla, Banyas, and Baida and not to use limited evacuations of civilians as an excuse to attack those residents who remain behind. Those responsible for atrocities in the Damascus suburbs and across Syria must be identified and held accountable,” said Ms. Psaki.
“The regime’s deliberate prevention of delivery of lifesaving humanitarian supplies to thousands of civilians is unconscionable,” she said. “We call on the Syrian regime to immediately approve relief convoys into these areas.”