UN expands list of besieged cities in Syria

Orient Net - Agencies 2016-02-03 05:36:00

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The UN has quietly added four areas to its increasingly controversial list of areas under siege in Syria, including Yarmouk and Madaya, the town that brought the issue of blockades into the limelight.

In a newly released map, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Syria marked Madaya, Bqine, Yarmouk, and Madamiyet ElShams as besieged, bringing the total number to 19.

Neither OCHA’s previous map nor the most recent UN secretary-general’s report on the humanitarian situation in Syria classified these areas as under siege, Albawaba News reported.

In a statement last week to the UN Security Council, UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien also described Madaya as "besieged," and said 486,700 Syrians were living under siege. This number is also reflected on OCHA’s new map, an increase from the previous count of 393,700.

According to Foreign Policy, which received an early draft of the UN’s Humanitarian Response Plan, 10 references to “sieged” or “besieged areas” were removed by the time it was published in late December.