Abeer Pamuk, Communications Advisor, was part of this team, and later described her experiences: “The situation is really devastating for all the people there, but especially for the children. None of the children I saw looked healthy. They are obviously not getting the food they need to grow normally.”
“In a normal scenario, in a normal house in Syria, children will be playing and jumping all around and laughing. Madaya has children, but they do not look like they normally would. They are hungry kids, without any energy to move. The houses are full of children, but hunger has shot their spirits down.”
Ban Ki-moon: Deliberate starvation is a war crime
Reports of starvation have drawn international attention to Madaya, where an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 people are thought to be trapped without food
, electricity and other basic supplies. The town is currently only being served by two doctors, with limited capacity for treating civilians.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the deliberate starvation of the town as a “war crime” on Thursday. In a speech before the UN General Assembly, he said, “The town has been the victim of deliberate starvation. Let me be clear: the use of food as a weapon of war is a war crime. All sides, including the Syrian Government, which has the primary responsibility to protect Syrians — are committing atrocious acts prohibited under international humanitarian law.”
Next steps for SOS Children’s Villages
Communications advisor Abeer Pamuk (left) on 11 January speaking with women and children waiting for news of relatives trapped inside Madaya. Photographer: Ahmad Hussien
The SOS team’s aim on Thursday was to make an assessment of living conditions, particularly for the children. There will later be an evaluation of the general situation through a group of initiatives.
The SOS Children’s Villages team is currently focusing on bringing unaccompanied and separated children to SOS Interim Care Centres in rural Damascus, ensuring that children get needed medical aid and making sure that the children who remain in Madaya get milk. These steps will be discussed and confirmed in the next few days so that immediate action can be taken in collaboration with other INGOs.
“The faith of the people of Madaya is in the hands of a world just 100 metres away from them.”