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‘UN must ignore the law of the jungle by breaking the siege of Madaya’

January 9, 2016 at 12:21 pm

A British-based human rights organisation has described the UN’s failure to act unilaterally to break the siege of Madaya in Syria as a “grave mistake”. The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR-UK) said that the UN’s request for permission from the Syrian regime to send aid to the starving residents in the town is a reflection of the international community’s failure to confront the Assad regime.

Although the UN has the resources to send food and medical supplies to Madaya any time it chooses to do so, claimed the AOHR-UK, it clearly has no contingency plans to address the desperate humanitarian crisis in Syria. “The world is ignoring the war crimes and crimes against humanity,” the organisation said in a press statement, “but is seeking permission from the criminals in order to assist the victims of the crimes.” This is nothing short of disgraceful, it added. “The UN must demonstrate that the world is not ruled by the law of the jungle by breaking the siege of Madaya.”

More than 40,000 people have been trapped in Madaya since last July without access to food and medical supplies. With images of severely emaciated men, women and children being posted on social media by activists, it is known that dozens have already starved to death or been shot while trying to smuggle food into the town. Many more will die, stressed AOHR-UK, if food aid is not received within the next 24 hours. Residents have been reduced to rummaging amongst piles of rubbish to try to find something to eat.

The town of Zabadani is also suffering after an influx of displaced persons from Madaya. There are serious shortages of food, especially baby milk; almost a thousand babies are at risk of starvation in the town. Medical supplies are also running out.

The AOHR-UK pointed out that UN member states Russia and Iran, as well as Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia, are helping the Assad regime in its war against the people of Syria. It noted that the Syrian army has imposed similar sieges on other towns and villages since the start of the conflict, including Daraa’, Al-Hajr Al-Aswad, Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp, Ma’damia, Yelda in Rif Dimashq, Homs and Hai Al-Wa’ir.

The rights group has urged the international community to move swiftly to save the lives of the people of Madaya, Zabadani and other areas currently under siege, without waiting for permission from the Syrian regime. The UN has enough resources, it insists, to set up humanitarian corridors to deliver food and medical supplies to the stricken areas.

The organisation has also called on the international community to act in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 337, known as “Uniting for Peace”, which allows the General Assembly to issue any recommendations it deems necessary to restore international peace and security in cases where the Security Council fails to do so. This is the case with the Syrian regime supported by Russia and Iran.