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Disturbing scenes from Madaya, Syria
02:35 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: The video in this story is difficult to watch, but CNN believes it is important that people see it. We have verified the images in it were shot recently in the town of Madaya, but cannot independently confirm the medical issues of those featured in it

Story highlights

An aid convoy brought food and medicine to the Syrian town of Madaya 10 days ago, but people are still starving

Activists say up to 10 people have died from malnutrition since the delivery; more than 20 died before it arrived

Experts have repeatedly warned that residents will continue to starve unless consistent aid is allowed in to the town

CNN  — 

The world’s attention may have moved on, and the aid convoys driven away, but in besieged Madaya, now caught in the bitterly cold grip of ice and snow, people are still starving.

Ten days since the last aid convoy brought emergency relief to the rebel-held Syrian town, which remains surrounded by pro-government forces, activists have smuggled out video they shot, showing the continuing suffering of emaciated adults and children trapped there.

Aid workers say up to 10 people have died from the effects of long-term malnutrition since the last convoy arrived in Madaya; more than 20 died before the aid was delivered, they say. Experts have repeatedly warned that the people of Madaya will continue to starve unless consistent medical and food aid is allowed in.

A doctor in the town’s makeshift hospital, in the basement of a house, said that one woman named Lama Issa died Monday from acute malnutrition, after not responding to treatment with intravenous drips; a man was also said to have died. CNN cannot independently confirm their deaths.

One of the videos CNN was able to verify shows a man, Fawaz Saeef Aldin, 50, almost unconscious, his stomach concave from longstanding malnutrition. Lamar, his 9-month-old granddaughter is next to him, her face skeletal.

“More than 400 people in Madaya are on the verge of death,” the doctor pictured alongside them says. “We need an immediate exit. We need a humanitarian corridor so that we can leave immediately.”

He adds that the hillside town, trapped beneath a blanket of snow, is running out of wood to burn; other images given to CNN show residents burning paper and plastic to stay warm.

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In another verified video, a doctor named Mohammed explains: “Today the weather has been especially harsh with a low of minus 5 degrees. In the past ten days since the arrival of relief supplies, there have been 10 deaths.

“Scores of people have arrived at the clinic unconscious; we have around 500 sick people in the town that require hospital treatment. Most importantly, we also have women on the verge of giving birth and that may need caesareans. But we don’t have the medical capabilities for this.”

Opinion: The starving of Syria

The footage provided to CNN was filmed sometime after Saturday January 23, since the activists showed a screen grab of that morning’s New York Times homepage in some of the shots.

Aid workers say they met some of the people in the videos when they were briefly allowed in to the town to provide aid.

Images from Madaya have been a source of constant controversy, with some activists uploading old pictures, or those from other besieged towns to advance the argument for urgent aid.

The plight of the estimated 400,000 people in Syria currently being denied adequate food because of the war will be a focus of diplomats who are meeting in Geneva Tuesday.

While Madaya is surrounded by forces loyal to the government of President Bashar al-Assad, the northern towns of Fua and Kefraya, are besieged by rebel troops; recent aid deliveries took place in all three towns simultaneously, as part of a U.N.-brokered deal, but they have now stopped.

Q&A: How did Madaya get so desperate?