End siege, starvation in Syrian town: MSF

Brussels, Jan 8 (IANS) MSF or Doctors Without Borders on Friday called for immediate medical evacuation of sick patients from Madaya town in Syria to a safe place for treatment.

Médecins Sans Frontières also sought the immediate and unhindered access for life-saving medical supplies for the civilian population in Madaya, near the border with Lebanon in Syria’s Rural Damascus Governorate.

“This access must be sustained, given that a one-shot distribution now will not alleviate the problems in the months to come,” MSF said in a statement.

Since July 2015, a siege has been imposed by Syrian government forces around Madaya town, it said.

Since the single one-off food distribution on October 18, this has been tightened to a total stranglehold siege, it said.

“Around 20,000 residents of the town are facing life-threatening deprivation of the basics for survival, and 23 patients in the health centre supported by MSF have died of starvation since December 1.

“MSF welcomes reports that the Syrian government will allow food supplies into the area, but urges that an immediate life-saving delivery of medicine across the siege line should also be a priority, and calls for sick patients to be allowed urgent medical evacuation to safe places of treatment.”

Of the 23 people who have died, six were under one year old, five were over 60 years old, and the other 12 were between five and 60. Eighteen were men and five were women.

“This indicates that the situation is affecting all age-groups and both sexes, and makes MSF extremely alarmed for the patients currently under treatment, and for the 20,000 residents who have had little to eat for months,” it said.

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