3 Things You Need to Know About the Syrian Starving Crisis

January 11th 2016

Taylor Bell

The civil war in Syria is now entering its fifth year, with no immediate resolution in sight. As a result, millions are suffering each day both in and out of the country. But nowhere is the suffering worse than in the Syrian city of Madaya where at least 40,000 people are on the brink of starving to death, USA Today reports.

The last time the people of Madaya received humanitarian aid was in October. Since then, aid has been delayed despite many requests, according to a statement from the United Nations. In recent weeks, images of starving children appeared on social media that brought the issue to light.

Related: What Does the Refugee Crisis Mean for the U.S.?

1. Syria's president Bashar Al-Assad has besieged the city

In July 2015, Syrian troops and members of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah — who support Al-Assad — took hold of the city. Opposition activists believe that this move was done in retaliation for their siege of Shiite villages in Syria's northern region. While the cities of Foua and Kefraya have been under siege for one year already, pro-government forces are now starving the people of Madaya by "cutting off fresh supplies of food and drink and preventing citizens from escaping by filling the surrounding countryside with land mines," the Independent reports. Humanitarian aid to Madaya has been cut off since October.

Although Madaya has just caught the attention of the media, the United Nations says that "nearly 400,000 people are besieged" in Syria, according to the BBC.

Related: These Memes Show How Outrageous It Is to Deny Syrian Refugees

2. Innocent civilians are dying

News of the situation made headlines after images and videos of starving children were uploaded on social media.

#مضايا #انقذوا_المحاصرينأطفال مضايا نتيجة الجوع ..

Posted by ‎مضايا madaya‎ on Tuesday, January 5, 2016

#مضايا#انقذوا_المحاصرين 08/01/201612:00 pmطفل في الثانية عشرة من عمره لم يعد يقوى على المشي بسبب سوء التغذية ..

Posted by ‎مضايا madaya‎ on Friday, January 8, 2016

#مضايا #انقذوا_المحاصرين03/01/2016أحمد عبد الكريم جواد ..قضى اليوم شهيداً نتيجة سوء التغذية...

Posted by ‎مضايا madaya‎ on Sunday, January 3, 2016

Twenty-three people have died from starvation since December 1, including three infants, according to the Telegraph and Reuters. Families have been forced to eat leaves, grass, and their pets. Because access to roads and travel is restricted, food prices continue to skyrocket: milk costs $300 per kilogram and flour is at $120 per kilogram.

3. The United Nations just sent aid.

Last week Syria discussion about sending aid to Madaya and other besieged cities.

In a statement the U.N. said that "the ongoing conflict continues to hamper the humanitarian response and freedom of movement is restricted by the presence of armed actors and landmines." But, Reuters reports that the U.N. could be sending aid to Madaya and two other besieged cities as early as Sunday. The International Committee of the Red Cross and the U.N. World Food Programme said they were in the process of sending convoys of food and medical supplies as well as humanitarian aid.

"The U.N. welcomes today's approval from the Government of Syria to access Madaya, Fuaa and Kafraya and is preparing to deliver humanitarian assistance in the coming days," a statement from the U.N. said.

That was last week. But on Monday, trucks carrying food and blankets finally made its way into the city, the first time that Madaya has received help in months, CNN reports.

Below is the tallied number of Syrian refugees displaced in Syria and across the world.

Syrian civil war crisis infographic