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Syria's UN envoy denies Madaya humanitarian crisis

Aid convoys delivered supplies to the besieged town of Madaya on Monday [AFP]

Date of publication: 12 January, 2016

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Syria's envoy to the United Nations on Monday dismissed reports that civilians were dying of starvation in a town besieged by government forces as "fabrications".

Syria's envoy to the United Nations on Monday dismissed reports that civilians were dying of starvation in a town besieged by government forces as "fabrications".

Ambassador Bashar Jaafari spoke after a convoy of 44 trucks loaded with food, baby formula, blankets and other supplies entered Madaya, where medical charity MSF says 28 people have starved to death since 1 December.

"Actually, there was no starvation in Madaya," Jaafari told reporters at UN headquarters.

"The Syrian government is not and will not exert any policy of starvation on its own people."

The ambassador said his government had in October approved aid deliveries to Madaya that would have lasted for more than two months and accused "terrorists inside" the town of stealing the supplies.

The ambassador suggested that reports of starvation were aimed at "demonising" the Assad regime and "torpedoing" peace talks planned for 25 January in Geneva.

The UN Security Council was meeting behind closed doors to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Syria following the deliveries to Madaya and to two other towns besieged by the rebels: Fuaa and Kafraya.

"New Zealand and Spain called for today's Security Council meeting on the situation in the Syrian town of Madaya following reports of people dying from starvation," New Zealand's United Nations ambassador, Gerard van Bohemen, told reporters.

"The tactic of siege and starvation is one of the most appalling characteristics of the Syrian conflict," he said.

The United Nations says it is struggling to deliver aid to about 4.5 million Syrians who live in hard-to-reach areas, including nearly 400,000 people in 15 besieged areas.

Britain and France are calling for an end to the sieges.

Over the weekned, over 20,000 people signed a petition calling on the British air force to drop aid to starving civilians in Syria.

More than 260,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government demonstrations.

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