UN urges 'lifesaving' aid for people trapped in Syria town
UNITED NATIONS - Agence France-PresseThe U.N.'s humanitarian chief called Oct. 19 for a cessation of hostilities in a Damascus suburb beseiged for months by Syrian army, so that food and vital medical aid can be delivered.
Although some 3,000 people were evacuated last week, "the same number or more remain trapped," the U.N.'s Valerie Amos said in a statement, noting that continued shelling and fighting hinder aid workers from reaching the needy in the town of Moadamiyet al-Sham.
"I call on all parties to agree an immediate pause in hostilities in Moadamiyet to allow humanitarian agencies unhindered access to evacuate the remaining civilians and deliver life-saving treatment and supplies," Amos said.
She emphasized that Moadamiyet al-Sham is not the only town under seige.
"Thousands of families also remain trapped in other locations across Syria, for example in Nubil, Zahra, old Aleppo town, old Homs town and Hassakeh," she said.
"How many more children, women and men will needlessly lose their lives? The humanitarian community has stressed time and time again that people must not be denied life-saving help and that the fighting has to stop," Amos said.
Moadamiyet al-Sham, a suburb southwest of the capital, is largely controlled by rebels seeking the overthrow of the government, although pockets remain under regime control.
The army has laid siege to the area for months, and bombed it near-daily, with the opposition accusing it of creating a situation in which residents are starving to death.
At the end of August, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an NGO, reported two children aged three and seven had died from a disease related to malnutrition.
The group said the siege, which began in April, had prevented doctors from bringing in food or medicine to save the children.
It was also one of the neighborhoods on the outskirts of Damascus hit in an August 21 sarin gas attack the opposition blamed on the regime and that reportedly killed hundreds.
But the government accuses the opposition of holding residents of the district hostage.