The United Nations (UN) says about 20 Syrians died of starvation last year in the city of Deir Ezzor, where Daesh terrorists have imposed a siege.
“Severe cases of malnutrition are reported by health personnel particularly amongst children with unverified reports of 15 – 20 people dying from starvation in 2015 (of whom four were children),” the UN said on Saturday.
The UN also warned that 200,000 residents in the city face a severe food shortage and sharply deteriorating conditions.
The report also said the city’s residents have been living with no electricity for more than 10 months, adding that they have access to a water supply for only three hours a week.
“All schools are functioning in the city however absenteeism amongst children is common as children suffer from frequent fainting due to malnutrition,” it added.
The UN said the Syrian government airlifted an amount of basic commodities, including food, last Monday. Russia also said on Friday it had dropped 22 tonnes of aid to the besieged part of the city.
The UN report added that none of the health centers are functioning and there have been reports of cases of Leishmaniasis and Typhoid.
Deir Ezzor has been effectively under siege by Daesh Takfiri militants since early 2015, when the militants launched an offensive, capturing the city of Palmyra in Homs Province, then cutting off the remaining supply line to the city.
The UN report comes as on Thursday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said that the use of food as a weapon against the Syrian people is a war crime amid reports of severe malnourishment in some besieged towns.
“Let me be clear: the use of starvation as a weapon of war is a war crime,” Ban said. “I would say they are being held hostage, but it is even worse. Hostages get fed.”
Some 400,000 people in Syria are under siege as a foreign-backed militancy is wreaking havoc across much of the country.
Ban said, “In 2014, the UN and partners were able to deliver food to about five per cent of people in besieged areas. Today, we are reaching less than one per cent. This is utterly unconscionable.”
The Syrian government has reiterated its commitment to cooperating fully with the UN and the Red Cross to deliver humanitarian aid to all civilians “without any discrimination.”