Sieges in Syria (January 18, 2016)

According to the United Nations :

4.5 million people live in areas that are difficult to access.

Of these, nearly 400,000 people are under siege: some 181,200 by government forces in the Eastern Ghouta (around 176,500 in Douma, Harasta, Arbin, Zamalka, Ein Tarma, Hammoura, Jisrein, Kafr Batna, Saqba and Zebdin), as well as Daraya (around 4,000 people) and Zabadani (500 people) in the province of Rif Dimashq; around 200,000 by Daesh in Deir al-Zour; and around 12,500 by non-state armed opposition groups and Al-Nusra Front in Fouaa and Kefraya (Idlib province).

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), only 10% of all requests for humanitarian access in these areas were approved and granted in 2015.

The siege of Madaya : around 42,000 people have been under siege by the regime for months.

After visiting Madaya, the UNHCR representative in Syria, Sajjad Malik, said he was horrified by what he had seen there. He said on 12 January that children in Madaya were reduced to foraging for grass to survive. What he had seen in Madaya was beyond comparison with any other part of the country.

Using starvation as a weapon of war, in violation of international law

Since the beginning of the conflict, the Syrian regime has been using the siege tactic, described by the United Nations as “starve or surrender”, in violation of international humanitarian law. The resolutions of the UN Security Council condemn the use of starvation as a war tactic and highlight that it is prohibited under international humanitarian law.

As the UN Secretary-General has pointed out, using starvation as a weapon of war is a war crime.