UNICEF says its representatives saw a Syrian teenager die of malnutrition in the besieged town of Madaya, where several cases of severe malnourishment were found among children.
“UNICEF is particularly saddened and shocked to have witnessed the death of Ali, a severely malnourished 16-year-old boy who passed away in the town’s clinic in front of our eyes,” Hanaa Singer, the UNICEF representative in Syria, said in a statement.
As we reported this week, international agencies—the UN, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and others—were granted access to Madaya, the town of 40,000 people that has become the latest face of suffering in the Syrian civil war. The town is controlled by rebel groups and has been subject to a blockade for months by Syrian government forces and their allies in Hezbollah, the Shia militia group from Lebanon. Madaya’s residents last received food and supplies six months ago, and prior to the aid deliveries, Médecins Sans Frontières said 28 people had died because of a lack of food. They received two deliveries this week.
Singer, in the statement, said of 25 children screened at a make-shift hospital in the town, 22 showed signs of moderate to severe malnutrition. They are now being treated with supplies delivered Monday. Singer added:
“The team screened another 10 children aged from 6 to 18. Six of them showed signs of severe malnutrition. A 17-year-old boy is in a life-threatening condition and desperately needs immediate medical evacuation. A pregnant woman in her ninth month with obstructed labour is also in urgent need of evacuation. …
“The people we met in Madaya were exhausted and extremely frail. Doctors were emotionally distressed and mentally drained, working round the clock with very limited resources to provide treatment to children and people in need. It is simply unacceptable that this is happening in the 21st century.
Abeer Pamuk, a representative of SOS Children’s Villages in Syria, who visited Madaya separately pointed out that none of the children he saw looked healthy.