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Syrian regime 'starvation siege' kills three-month-old baby

Two children suffering from malnutrition in Muadamiyet al-Sham [Al-Ghouta Hospital]

Date of publication: 15 January, 2016

A government siege in the Syrian town of Moadamiyeh has starved an infant to death, with severe shortages of medical and food supplies threatening the rest of the town's residence.
A three-month-old baby has starved to death in the besieged Syrian town of Moadamiyeh, ten kilometres southwest of Damascus.

Around 45,000 civilians in the district are suffering from a crippling government siege and fears that starvation could creep in have finally come true.

 
Media reports and activists said that three-month-old Youssef Saadia died of malnutrition and lack of medical attention on Thursday.

It comes just one day after a disabled 15-year-old boy, Saeed Karbouj, also died from the same causes. 

It brings the number of children who have died from starvation in the Western Ghouta town up to four.

Locals have said that government forces have blocked food coming into the Damascus' suburb - also known as Moadamiyet al-Sham - for three weeks.

No medicine and medical equipment have been allowed to enter since early last year.

"Children have died because of severe malnourishment and there are many other children in need of medical care, such as an eight-month-old called Mariam, who is suffering from malnutrition and dehydration," Abu Kanan al-Dimashqi, a member of the town's local council, told The New Arab.

"The vast majority of locals are living on one meal a day of bulgur and lentil soup with salt and spices because of the lack basic foodstuffs, such as flour and infant formula," Dimashqi said.

"Since mid-last March, [the siege] has intensified with only workers and students being let outside of the town and food shipments being limited to two kilogrammes at a time," he added.

     
      Youssef Saadia died of malnutrition [Al-Ghouta Hospital]
Across Syria, the Assad regime has tightened its sieges over rebel-held towns, in an attempt to starve opposition-held areas into submission.

The situation has led to civilians being forced to eat grass and leaves to cope with the hunger.

The UN 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.

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.

France, Britain and the US have 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.
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