Marianne Gasser, the head of the ICRC's Syria delegation, speaks to residents of Madaya as they gather around the joint aid convoy that entered the besieged town on 11 January. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / P. Krzysiek
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says that, as a matter of urgency, and because of overwhelming humanitarian needs, all sieges being carried out across Syria must be ended. The appeal comes after access was granted earlier this week to three towns in the country which have been under siege for months. The populations in all three areas were found to be living in appalling conditions. Joint ICRC, UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoys delivered food, medicines and blankets to tens of thousands of people in Madaya, Kefraya and Foua.
The most senior ICRC official in Syria, Marianne Gasser, says action needs to be taken now to help more than 400,000 Syrians currently living in besieged areas across the country.
The scenes we witnessed in Madaya were truly heartbreaking. People are desperate. Food is in extremely short supply.
"It is the elderly, women and children who are suffering the most, especially from severe malnourishment. The conditions are some of the worst that I have witnessed in my five years in the country. This cannot go on," said Ms Gasser.
At the same time, Foua and Kefraya, two towns in the north of the country that have also been under siege for several months and whose people suffer the same dreadful conditions, received equally vital aid.
Many people need urgent medical treatment. The lack of food has made the situation even worse.
"The sieges of all towns and villages across Syria need to be lifted, immediately and simultaneously. Whilst we wait for the sieges to be lifted, there needs to be unconditional, rapid and regular access given for humanitarian convoys to all these areas so that lives can be saved," said the ICRC's regional director for the Near and Middle East, Robert Mardini.
The ICRC has 350 staff working in different areas of Syria. They help provide food, water, medicine, shelter and other essential items. It is the ICRC's biggest operation in the world today.
For further information:
Pawel Krzysiek, ICRC Damascus, mobile: +963 930 336 718
Twitter: @PKrzysiekICRC, Skype: PKrzysiekICRC
Dibeh Fakhr, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 447 37 26 Twitter: @DFakhrICRC
Matthew Morris, ICRC London, tel: +44 7720 040 080
Anna Nelson, ICRC Washington, tel: +1 202 361 1566