New aid convoy enters hunger-stricken Syrian town
A convoy of 50 aid trucks left the Syrian capital Damascus on Thursday for the besieged neighbouring town of Madaya, where more than two dozen people have died from starvation since December.
Madaya's 40,000 residents have suffered a crippling government siege that has drawn sharp condemnation from the United Nations.
Disease and starvation are both said to be rampant, and residents have been forced to eat grass, leaves, cats, dogs, and rubbish to stay alive.
On Monday, the first aid reached the town in nearly four months after Damascus was pressured to allow in humanitarian supplies by world powers and the UN, after horrifying footage of widespread starvation.
A spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that the new convoy was travelling from Damascus to Madaya. This would include flour, medical aid and hygiene products for residents of the town.
A separate convoy of 17 aid trucks also left the capital for Fuaa and Kafraya, two towns in Syria's northwest encircled by rebels.
The assistance would enter all three towns simultaneously in a synchronised delivery.
Linda Tom, a spokeswoman with the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that a third batch of aid would enter the towns in the following days.
On Tuesday, around 400 Syrians on the brink of death needed to be urgently evacuated from Madaya to receive medical treatment.
UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien said they were in "grave peril of losing their lives".
The United Nations says it is struggling to deliver aid to about 4.5 million Syrians who live in hard-to-reach areas, including nearly 400,000 people in 15 besieged areas.
"Madaya is tragically far from being unique," O'Brien added.
The UK and France have called for an end to the sieges.
|Starving civilians is an inhuman tactic used by the Assad regime and their allies
- British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft
"Starving civilians is an inhuman tactic used by the Assad regime and their allies," said British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft.
"All sieges must be lifted to save civilian lives and to bring Syria closer to peace," he said in a statement.
More than 260,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government demonstrations.