UN warns of 'looming catastrophe' in Syria

UN warns of 'looming catastrophe' in SyriaThe U.N. on Tuesday warned of a "looming humanitarian catastrophe" in four besieged towns in Syria, calling on the Syrian government to allow immediate delivery of humanitarian aid to some 60,000 people in need.

"Sixty thousand innocent people are trapped there in a cycle of daily violence and deprivation, where malnutrition and lack of proper medical care prevail," the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria Ali Al-Za’tari said in a statement.

"The situation is a looming humanitarian catastrophe. The principle of free access to people in need must be implemented now and without repeated requests."

Noting that the last UN humanitarian access to the towns of Al-Zabadani, Al-Fu’ah, Kafraya and Madaya was last November, Al-Za’tari said "the unfair and totally unjustified besiegement is compounded by the tit-for-tat arrangement between the four towns, which makes humanitarian access prone to painstaking negotiations that are not based on humanitarian principles."

"This has prevented medical cases from receiving proper treatment and evacuation. People are in need, and they cannot wait any longer. We need to act now," he added.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime of Bashar al-Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protests – which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings – with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-torn country, according to the UN, but the Syrian Center for Policy Research puts the death toll at more than 470,000.
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