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Christian charity urges peace talks as Syrians starve

by Hannah Tooley

Reports from Syria suggest that the government has agreed to allow humanitarian assistance into the three villages of Foua and Kfarya and Madaya, following reports of deaths from malnutrition in that part of the country.

A United Nations official has said that aid will begin to reach people over the coming days.

Speaking to Premier Johan Eldebo, World Vision senior humanitarian policy adviser, outlined the charity's worry. He said: "The funding for Syria last year was around half of what was necessary."

"We remain very concerned about the need to get assistance and to get food to those people who need it the most and with the difficultly of access to Syria the we're calling on all parties who have the ability to do so to allow humanitarian assistance to get to those people who need it the most."

He emphasised that discussions must go ahead and reach a conclusion for people to be helped: "We have to keep trying to make negotiations work, and the diplomats of the world and the UN mediators have to keep doing what they can and do the best they're able to do to get everyone to the table and agree on a peace process that works for everyone involved."

A UN statement read: "In the last year, only 10% of all requests for UN inter-agency convoys to hard-to-reach and besieged areas were approved and delivered."

It's claimed Syrian president Bashar Assad's government has repeatedly denied UN requests to deliver aid to specific areas.

Several people have died over the past weeks because of malnutrition and almost 42,000 people remaining in Madaya are at risk of further hunger and starvation.

To date more than 250,000 people have been killed in the conflict that began in March 2011 and more than a million have been wounded.

The crisis has also displaced half of Syria's pre-war 23 million people.

Listen to Premier's Hannah Tooley speak to Johan Eldebo here:

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