Syria 'starvation towns' won't get aid before Monday: Red Cross

A toddler in a still from a video said to have been shot in Madaya.
A toddler in a still from a video said to have been shot in Madaya.PHOTO: REUTERS

DAMASCUS (AFP) - Aid desperately needed in three besieged towns in war-torn Syria cannot be delivered before Monday, the Red Cross said, citing logistical problems.

Syria's regime agreed on Thursday to allow aid into Madaya, a town of 42,000 that has been surrounded by the army for six months and has become notorious in recent days because of people starving there.

Fuaa and Kafraya, in the northwestern province of Idlib, are encircled by rebel groups.

"The distribution of aid will not take place on Sunday for logistical reasons; we are working hard for it to take place on Monday," said Pawel Krzysiek, spokesman in Damascus of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Tamam Mehrez of the Syrian Red Crescent had said "technically we are ready to begin distribution as early as Sunday, but if there are logistical issues it will be Monday at the latest".

"Anyway, I am sure there will be food for everyone," he added.

Al-Manar, a Lebanese television station affiliated with Hezbollah, whose fighters aid regime forces, said an agreement had been reached for the UN to take aid to Madaya, and simultaneously to Fuaa and Kafraya.

Both the UN and the Red Cross were expected to deliver aid to Madaya.

According to Doctors Without Borders, at least 23 people have starved to death since December 1 in centres that it supports.

At the same time, the 20,000 residents of the two Shi'ite towns of Fuaa and Kafraya should also receive similar assistance.

The UN Security Council is to discuss the matter behind closed doors on Monday, although no decision is expected. The meeting was requested by Spain and New Zealand.

Syria's conflict erupted with anti-government protests in March 2011 but quickly evolved into a multi-sided war that has killed 260,000 people and forced millions from their homes.