Syria approves UN access to starving civilians, but for some it's too late

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In December 2015, a mother loads preserved food supplies in a truck as the family prepares to move out of Nashabieh village to a neighbouring safer town within besieged East Ghouta, Syria. Almost 400,000 people are trapped in besieged locations. Photo: UNICEF/Amer Al Shami

The government of Syria said on Thursday it would approve UN access to three towns where there are "credible reports" of people dying from starvation.

Since late October, UN agencies have been trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged town of Madaya, Foah, and Kefraya, but numerous requests have been denied.

Matthew Wells reports.

In a joint statement, the UN Humanitarian coordinators in Syria and the region, called for immediate "unimpeded access" saying that around 400,000 people living in besieged cities and towns around the country need urgent food and medical aid.

The statement cites one example of a 53-year-old man who reportedly starved to death on Tuesday in Madaya, while his family of five continue to suffer severe malnutrition.

A further 42,000 people in the town are under threat of starvation.

The Syrian government gave its approval on Thursday for the UN to access Madaya and the two other towns.

The UN said it would deliver aid in the coming days, and called for immediate access to all hard-to-reach areas in the war-ravaged country.

In the past year, only 10 per cent of all requests for UN inter-agency convoys to access isolated areas have been granted.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 49"

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