Syria to Allow Food Aid to Town Where Residents Are Eating Grass and Leaves: Here’s How to Help

The small town outside Damascus has been cut off by dictator Bashar al-Assad’s forces for months.

This Syrian woman and her children are struggling to survive heavy winter conditions with little food and limited heat. (Photo: Guven Yilmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Jan 8, 2016· 1 MIN READ
TakePart editorial fellow Nicole Mormann covers a variety of topics, including social justice, entertainment, and environment.

After a multitude of harrowing reports surfaced of people dying of starvation in the besieged town of Madaya, the Syrian government is allowing the United Nations to provide immediate humanitarian aid to its residents, as well as those of two neighboring towns under siege by antigovernment groups.

A number of disturbing images and videos that have recently come out of Madaya show an emaciated child crying, the corpse of a skeletal man, and a woman stirring grass in boiling water as a source of food.

While aid groups have not yet confirmed the images and clips, the U.N. says it has received “credible” reports of people starving to death and being killed when trying to leave Madaya, a town of almost 42,000 residents just 10 miles from Damascus. The last time Madaya received food aid was in mid-October.

As the U.N. World Food Programme, the International Red Cross, and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent prepare to send a convoy loaded with aid supplies in the coming days, there are ways that people around the world can help those suffering in Syria right now.

Here are three organizations providing relief to those in Madaya, Foah, and Kefraya.

Doctors Without Borders

Medics with this French group working in Madaya have confirmed that 250 people are suffering from acute malnutrition, with 10 patients in critical need of hospitalization. The organization, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières, says that 23 people have died since Dec. 1 in its health center there. Medical staff reports working in “unbearable” conditions with the added stress of food insecurity.

The organization is calling for critical medical supplies to help aid staff and patients, in addition to immediate evacuation of sick residents so they can be sent to a safe treatment center.

Click here to donate.

United Nations World Food Programme

Abeer Etefa, a spokeswoman for the WFP, told CNN yesterday, “People are living off nothing. This is an area that’s completely besieged and surrounded by mountains covered in snow, so the little food that gets in is through tunnels and is extremely expensive."

She said the convoy can provide everyone in Madaya with enough supplies to last a month. But after that time, the future is unclear.

You can donate to the WFP by clicking here.

International Committee of the Red Cross

The ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent are working to provide assistance to 500,000 people in towns currently under siege, including Madaya, Foua, and Kefraya.

“When we last managed to go to Madaya in October, we saw despair. We saw hunger in the eyes of the people,” said ICRC spokeswoman Dibeh Fakhr in a video interview. “We saw mothers not able to breastfeed their newborn babies.”

With 12 million people in dire need of aid in Syria, the ICRC needs donations to provide those suffering with the assistance needed to survive. Click here to help.