Regular access of food needed for starving Syrian citizens

The first shipment of foreign aid since October reached the besieged Syrian city of Madaya on Monday, bringing starving residents to tears at the sight, a United Nations source told CNN. The convoy came from the U.N. World Food Programme, International Red Cross and Syrian Arab Red Crescent and had been positioned at the outskirts of the city.

“It’s heartbreaking to see so many hungry people,” said Sajjad Malik, the UNHCR representative in Syria. “It’s cold and raining but there is excitement because we are here with some food and blankets.”

Syrian Ambassador to the U.N. Bashar al-Ja’afari said, “The Syrian government did not stop any convoys of humanitarian assistance,” he said. “On the contrary: We sent plenty of convoys and we asked the U.N. to send more.”

International Red Cross spokeswoman Dibeh Fakhr said the aid that has just arrived in the Syrian city of Madaya will go only so far. “One short delivery will not be the solution,” she said. “What is needed is regular access.”

Even though Madaya is less than 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the capital city of Damascus, the cost of food has crippled the city. For example, in Damascus, flour costs 79 cents a kilogram. But in Madaya, a kilo of flour costs $120, and a kilo of rice costs $150. In the capital, milk costs $1.06 a liter. But in Madaya, the price soars to $300 a liter.

[CNN]

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