Syrian government agrees on aid access to besieged town: UN

The Syrian government has agreed to the delivery of relief aid to the besieged town of Madaya near the capital Damascus, a UN official said on Thursday.

Residents of the rebel-held town of Madaya are suffering from severe malnutrition and have little access to fuel and medical supplies because of a siege of more than six months by the Syrian military, according to aid groups.

"We're working to deliver the aid," Ghalia Seifo, a spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Damascus, told dpa.

She gave no specific date for delivery of assistance or other details. There was no official comment in Damascus.

Madaya, about 25 kilometres north-west of Damascus, has been under siege since July by President Bashar al-Assad's soldiers and fighters from the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.

Local activists say an estimated 40,000 people have little access to food and medicines.

The Red Cross on Thursday called on conflict parties to allow aid to reach Madaya.

"We are on stand-by with humanitarian supplies in Syria, but we need safe access to Madaya," Red Cross spokeswoman Dibeh Fakhr told dpa from Geneva.

The situation had already been dire in October, when international aid last reached the town, she said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday that at least 23 people, including children, had died in Madaya because of the siege and mines laid by al-Assad's forces around the town.

At least 300 children in Madaya are also suffering from malnutrition, the Britain-based monitoring group reported.

More than 250,000 people are estimated to have been killed in Syria's conflict since it started in 2011.

Last update: Wed, 22/06/2016 - 15:01

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