Humanitarian groups will deliver food, medicine, and other supplies this week to besieged Syrian towns where dozens of people have died of starvation and hundreds have been killed in the country’s civil war.
The United Nations has dispatched trucks to thousands of people in Madaya, Fouah, Kafrayah, Mouadhimiyeh, and Kafr Batna. Some of the towns are besieged by rebels; others by the Syrian government. The UN is expected to airlift aid into the city of Deir Ez Zour, which is encircled by the Islamic State.
The deliveries are the product of an agreement reached last week by the 17-member International Syria Support Group—which includes the the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the Arab League—and a step, diplomats hope, that leads to a cessation of hostilities this week.
The UN said deliveries would “continue as long as humanitarian needs persist.” The Syrian Arab Red Crescent, a humanitarian organization, photographed the effort:
Many of the towns have been for months sealed by checkpoints and barricades, the people inside subjected to frequent bombing from overhead. Food, drinking water, electricity, and fuel are in short supply. “The people have been literally starving,” said Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy to Syria, in an interview with CNN. “And when they’re not starving, they’re very close to it.”