The World Health Organization has requested the Syrian government to grant it permission to send mobile clinics and medical teams to the besieged town of Madaya to assess the degree of malnutrition and evacuate severe cases, its representative said on Tuesday.
After months of blockade, an aid convoy finally reached Madaya on Monday bringing the first food and medical supplies for months to the town. Local doctors say some people have starved to death.
Elizabeth Hoff, WHO representative in Damascus who went into Madaya on Monday in a U.N. convoy, asserted the agency’s need to do a “door-to-door assessment” in the town of 42,000 people, where a Syrian doctor told her 300-400 needed “special medical care”.
|Hoff has been based in Syria since July 2012. She told Reuters over a phone call that she is “really alarmed”.
“People gathered in the market place. You could see many were malnourished, starving. They were skinny, tired, severely distressed. There was no smile on anybody’s faces. It is not what you seen when you arrive with a convoy. The children I talked to said they had no strength to play.”
The WHO supplied trapped citizens with 7.8 tonnes of medicines including trauma kits for wounds and medicines for treating both chronic and communicable diseases, including antibiotics and nutritional therapeutic supplies for children, Hoff said.
Hoff also reported several cases of malnourishment, from mothers with milk for breast-feeding to dehydrated men and unconscious pregnant women.
“We need to go in with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent for a door-to-door basement, if there are these cases we need to verify and make sure they get urgent treatment,” Hoff said.
“I sent an immediate request to authorities for more supplies to be brought in. We are asking for mobile clinics and medical teams to be dispatched.”
“We need unhindered, sustained access, the only thing that will help in the long term is lifting the siege”, she added.
WHO simultaneously delivered 3.9 tonnes each to Foua and Kafraya, two villages in Idlib province surrounded by rebels fighting the Syrian government.