Friday 23 February 2018

Refugees dying of starvation in Damascus

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.N-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.N-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi

Ruth Sherlock Gaziantep, Turkey

Dozens of people in the southern suburbs of Damascus have died of starvation after spending months living on scraps of food, trapped in one of the worst sieges of the civil war, activists claim.

For more than a year, nothing has been allowed in or out of several districts in the southern suburbs of the capital.

It is thought that tens of thousands of people living in Yarmouk Camp, home to settled Palestinian refugees, and Tadamon have been stopped by the army from leaving and are struggling to get enough food to live.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said that President Bashar al-Assad might finally allow some humanitarian convoys into parts of Damascus.

Mr Kerry said that Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, had "indicated that he's had some conversations with the regime, that the regime may be prepared to open up a number of areas".

For many that may be too little too late. Malnutrition has reached critical levels in recent months and now children and the elderly are dying, according to residents.

"Today a mother and her three children died after eating food that had gone off. They had nothing else.

"For weeks children have been dying," said Susan Ahmed, an activist living in the suburbs of Damascus.

Syrian opposition activists said they had recorded the names of 68 people who had starved recently.

While that figure cannot be independently verified, disturbing video footage has been uploaded to the internet, showing skeletal men, women and children on stretchers, too weak to walk.

Meanwhile, Britain said yesterday that the Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose was assisting in the international effort to remove chemical stocks from Syria and that it planned to give the US equipment worth £2.5m (€3m) and training to help it destroy the arsenal more quickly. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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