Women in starvation-wracked Daraya demand the world's attention

Women in starvation-wracked Daraya demand the world's attention
Syrian women and children in the besieged Damascus suburb of Daraya are crying out in hunger, warning that deaths from starvation are imminent.
3 min read
12 April, 2016
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Syrians trapped in the town of Daraya fear that the besieged area will soon meet the same fate as Madaya - and deaths due to starvation are imminent. 

Despite the truce in the city coming into effect more thana month ago, not even a loaf of bread has yet entered the city, according to activists. Daraya has been under siege by the Assad regime for three-and-a-half years.

On Sunday, dozens of women and children in Daraya held a silent village in a downtown square, reduced to rubble by the heavy shelling.

The protesters raised banners bearing slogans demanding an end to the siege of the city and the introduction of humanitarian aid.

"Maybe this way you'll pay more attention to our suffering - we are starving to death!" one poster read, with a design evoking the Islamic State group flag.

They also held pictures of victims of hunger in Madaya.

"Are you waiting for us to look like this to help?" read one caption.

"My husband is missing and I have seven children. Because of the blockade I can't even get the necessary batteries for my child's hearing aid," said one protester.

"We can no longer afford to deprive our children of food. What can a woman like me do with her children in this besieged city? Why does the world not feel our suffering and the suffering of our children?"

Local activist Abu Mohammed summed up residents' desperation: "The only source of food in the city is the little that people obtain through planting in available spaces. The methods are very primitive because of the lack of seeds and the wells in the city are contaminated."

"There is no food at all in Daraya. There are cases of malnutrition and we have resorted to cooking soups made purely of spices in order to stave off hunger," said women from the beseiged city in an open letter published by the Syria Campaign. 

"There are signatories to this letter that have not eaten for at least two days - some longer. There is no baby milk and no breast milk due to malnutrition."

Nearly half a million Syrians are trapped in towns under regime siege as the war enters its sixth year.

The United Nations has asked Syria to grant access to 11 priority areas in April, but the government has so far approved only six.

Daraya, Duma and East Harasta have been left off the government's list.