The Rendon Group Snapshot Report – 18 January 2016

by TRG Alerts Admin on January 25, 2016

The Rendon Group


Each week The Rendon Group’s media analysts will focus on a different continent and a different issue affecting that continent. As always, we remain available to answer any questions you may have and to provide additional information upon request. For more information regarding The Rendon Group’s products and services, please contact us at or +1-202-745-4900.

Humanitarian Aid for Syria

Residents waited to leave Madaya, Syria, after a few were cleared for evacuation. (AP)

This week’s snapshot focuses on the humanitarian aid crisis in various Syrian cities under siege, particularly the aid crisis in the Syrian town of Madaya. International organizations leveraged their power to convince the Syrian government to allow aid convoys into the town of Madaya. After reports of severe malnutrition and starvation were verified by the aid distributors, multiple nations and organizations called for a total end to the siege, and punishment for those who forced the humanitarian crisis.

News summary of events during the week of 11JAN16 – 17JAN16

  • 11JAN – An aid convoy left the Syrian capital Damascus for the rebel-held town of Madaya, where residents were reported to be suffering from severe malnutrition and a number have already died of hunger. (DPA)
  • 11JAN – World leaders from Europe and the United States demanded end to siege on civilian towns, including Madaya. (AFP)
  • 11JAN – The UN reported 4.5 million Syrians were living in besieged or hard-to-reach areas and desperately need humanitarian aid, with civilians prevented from leaving and aid workers blocked from bringing in food, medicine, fuel and other supplies. (AP)
  • 11JAN – Syria’s envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Bashar Jaafari, dismissed as fabrications reports that civilians were dying of starvation in Madaya. (AFP)
  • 12JAN – “There is no comparison in what we saw in Madaya,” the UN refugee agency’s chief in Damascus, Sajjad Malik, told journalists in Geneva, when asked to compare the devastation in the town to other areas in Syria. (AFP)
  • 12JAN – The United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent were working to evacuate around 400 people in need of urgent care from Madaya. (AFP)
  • 12JAN – Yacoub El Hillo, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Syria, warned that “many more will die” unless government forces and rebels lift their sieges of towns across the country. (AFP)
  • 12JAN –  UN agencies appealed for $7.73 billion in funding to help 22.5 million people affected by the conflict. (AFP)
  • 14JAN – A convoy of about 50 aid trucks left Damascus for the besieged Syrian town of Madaya. (AFP)
  • 14JAN – The UN children’s agency said that it witnessed the death of a teenager who died of starvation “in front of our eyes,” as well as several cases of severe malnutrition among children trapped in a besieged Syrian town near Damascus. (GUARDIAN)
  • 14JAN – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that any side in Syria that has deliberately used starvation as a weapon has committed a “war crime” and should be prosecuted. (AFP)
  • 14JAN – France, Britain and the United States asked for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to press for the lifting of sieges on Syrian cities and towns where some 400,000 people are unable to get humanitarian aid. (AP)
  • 15JAN – Russia’s Deputy UN ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, questioned the motives of Britain, France and the US in calling for a Security Council meeting to address the military sieges that have caused starvation in Syrian towns. He accused the three Western powers of politicizing the humanitarian crisis in Syria and warns the tactic risks derailing upcoming peace talks. (AP)
  • 16JAN – The UN said they had unverified reports that 15 to 20 people died of starvation in the Syrian city of Deir al-Zor last year, warning that 200,000 residents there face a severe food shortage and sharply deteriorating conditions. (Reuters)
  • 17JAN – A UN-appointed panel said an estimated USD40 billion is needed annually to help the rapidly growing number of people needing humanitarian aid as a result of conflicts and natural disasters. (AP)
  • 18JAN – Thousands of Syrian refugees are stranded in a remote area on the border with Jordan, with Amman allowing only a few emergency cases to enter each day while it looks for a third country to accept them. (Middle East Eye)

Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about humanitarian aid for Syria

  • @nadimhoury – Nadim Houry, Deputy Director for MENA for Human Rights Watch.
  • @DRovera – Senior Crisis Response Adviser for Amnesty International.
  • @ABarnardNYT – Middle East Bureau Chief for the New York Times.
  • @Roy_Gutman – Istanbul-based journalist covering Turkey and Middle East .
  • @StephNebehay – Reporter for Reuters covering the UN, aid, and human rights.

Sample of Third Party Validators regarding humanitarian aid for Syria

Diana Semaan, Syria campaigner, Amnesty International

“It’s clear the government is besieging the area; it’s preventing any food to enter the area in addition to the daily airstrikes that are being carried out against civilians. The situation keeps getting worse.”

  • “Syria’s Hunger Crisis Goes Beyond Madaya”, Huffington Post, 14NOV16

Hadeel al-Shalchi, Syria researcher, Human Rights Watch

“You shouldn’t have to have images and stories of starving people come out for the Syrian government to do what’s right. They should be upholding international law to allow humanitarian access to besieged areas.”

  • “Syria’s Hunger Crisis Goes Beyond Madaya”, Huffington Post, 14NOV16

Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa director, Amnesty International

“These harrowing accounts of hunger represent the tip of an iceberg. Syrians are suffering and dying across the country because starvation is being used as a weapon of war by both the Syrian government and armed groups.”

  • “First aid shipment in months reaches besieged Madaya; starving Syrians weep”, CNN, 11JAN16

Abeer Pamuk, a representative of SOS Children’s Villages in Syria

“They all looked pale and skinny. They could barely talk or walk. Their teeth are black, their gums are bleeding, and they have lots of health problems with their skin, hair, nails, teeth. They are obviously not getting the food they need to grow normally. Thus, the children looked smaller and younger than their real ages.”

  • “Madaya: The Face of Syrians’ Suffering”, The Atlantic, 15JAN16

Brice de le Vingne, director of operations, Doctors Without Borders

“This is shocking; patients are still dying despite the arrival of two big international humanitarian convoys. Some of the current patients may not survive another day. Medical evacuations for the most critically sick and malnourished need to happen immediately, and it is hard to understand why patients clinging to life have not already been evacuated. Nothing should be allowed to hold this up and everything possible should be done by the warring parties and the agencies involved in the convoys to expedite these evacuations as a life-saving humanitarian act.”

  • “Syria: Five more starvation deaths in Madaya since humanitarian convoy arrival”, Doctors Without Borders, 15JAN16

Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to humanitarian aid for Syria

1. In Syrian Town Cut Off From the World, Glimpses of Deprivation

Media: New York Times


Date: 14 January 2016

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Nisrine kept teaching school for months as the siege tightened around the Syrian town of Madaya, but had to give up a few weeks ago when her students got too weak from starvation to walk to class. A local medic has been surviving on the rehydration salts he gives patients, while a business school graduate makes soup from grass for his 70-year-old father, consulting shepherds about which kinds their long-since-slaughtered flocks liked best.

The people of Madaya and neighboring Zabadani have tried, since the siege by pro-government forces began in July, to keep society functioning and adjust to their surreal new set of dynamics. There is the black market across blockade lines, for instance, and the quiet or unexpected ways this type of warfare can kill: heart attacks, stillbirths, a step on a land mine while foraging for food.

And there is the relentless physical and psychological contraction of their communities, only an hour’s drive from Damascus, Syria, and two from Beirut — yet suddenly sealed off from the outside world.

Read More


2. Many People in Besieged Syrian Town of Madaya Nearing Death

Media: Voice of America

Byline: Lisa Schlein

Date: 15 January 2016

United Nations aid agencies say many people in the besieged Syrian government-controlled town of Madaya have starved to death, while children suffering from severe levels of malnutrition are barely clinging to life.

The U.N. agencies report people in Madaya are in poor condition after having been deprived of food, medicine and other essential life-giving supplies since October. The agencies succeeded in delivering desperately needed humanitarian aid on Monday, with U.N. aid workers saying they were shocked by what they saw.

The spokesman for the U.N. Children’s Fund, Christophe Boulierac, says the U.N. found severe levels of malnutrition in the children. He says some were so weakened from lack of food that they died in front of those who came too late to help them.

“The people they met in Madaya were exhausted and extremely frail,” he said. “Doctors were emotionally distressed and mentally drained, working around the clock with very limited resources to provide treatment to children and people in need.”

Read More


3. Severe malnutrition confirmed in Syria’s Madaya, 32 deaths reported in month: U.N.

Media: Reuters


Date: 15 January 2016

The U.N. Children’s Fund UNICEF on Friday confirmed cases of severe malnutrition among children in the besieged western Syrian town of Madaya, where local relief workers reported 32 deaths of starvation in the past month.

A mobile clinic and medical team of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent was on its way to Madaya after the government approved an urgent request, and a vaccination campaign is planned next week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

Two convoys of aid supplies were delivered this week to the town of 42,000 under a months-long blockade. The United Nations said another convoy was planned to Madaya, sealed off by pro-government forces, and rebel-besieged villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in Idlib next week, and that regular access was needed.

Read More


4. Madaya: Second aid convoy enters besieged Syrian town

Media: BBC

Byline: N/A

Date: 15 January 2016

A second aid convoy in a week has arrived at the besieged rebel-held Syrian town of Madaya, where people have been dying of starvation.

The first six of 40 lorries carrying wheat flour and medical supplies entered Madaya on Thursday evening.

The UN says 40,000 people are living in appalling conditions in Madaya, which is surrounded by government forces.

A smaller aid convoy also reached two towns under siege by rebels in the country’s north-west on Thursday.

The situation in Foah and Kefraya in Idlib province, where 20,000 people are trapped, is said to be similarly dire.

Read More


5. Starvation in Syria ‘a war crime,’ U.N. chief says

Media: CNN

Byline: Don Melvin, Nick Paton Walsh and Tim Hum

Date: 15 January 2016

Ali was 16 years old and badly malnourished.

Workers for UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, met him in a makeshift hospital in the Syrian city of Madaya. The city is controlled by rebels and under siege by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Its people are starving.

The UNICEF team screened the children they found in the hospital. They found 22 children under the age of 5 suffering from malnutrition, according to a statement Friday from Hanaa Singer, the organization’s representative in Syria. They also found six children between the ages of 6 and 18 suffering from severe malnutrition.

Read More


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