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'Starvation is a war crime' UN chief warns Syria

Madaya has been besieged by Syrian regime forces leading to starvation [AFP]

Date of publication: 14 January, 2016

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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned that the starvation sieges - such as those in Madaya and other Syrian towns - are a war crime.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned the use of starvation as a weapon in the Syrian war is a war crime.

The warning comes after aid workers were able to make the second delivery of food to the famine-struck town of Madaya - in the Damascus suburbs - where starvation has become rampant after a lengthy regime siege.

"Let me be clear: the use of starvation as a weapon of war is a war crime," Ban told reporters.

Although a month's worth of food has been delivered to civilians in Madaya and those close to death evacuated, residents fear that with the siege continuing, starvation and disease will set in again.

UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien said on Tuesday that 400 people in "grave peril" in Madaya need to be evacuated. 

France, Britain and the United States requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting to demand the lifting of sieges in Syria to allow aid and food to reach civilians facing starvation.

A new convoy of aid trucks entered Madaya on Thursday, where at least two-dozen people have died from starvation since December.

The meeting expected to be held on Friday "will draw the world's attention to the humanitarian tragedy that is unfolding in Madaya and in other towns in Syria", French Ambassador Francois Delattre told AFP.

Meanwhile, world powers are also hoping to broker a peace deal between Syria's warring paries which could end the conflict for good.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and United States Secretary of State John Kerry have agreed to meet in Zurich on 20 January for talks on Syria.

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