UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has criticized the warring sides in Syria’s conflict, but singled out President Bashar al-Assad’s government, for committing "atrocious acts" and "unconscionable abuses" against civilians.
Speaking on January 14 after briefing the UN General Assembly on his 2016 priorities, Ban said harrowing images of starving civilians in the besieged town of Madaya reflected a new low for a war that had already reached "shocking depths of inhumanity."
"Let me be clear: the use of starvation as a weapon of war is a war crime," Ban told reporters. "I would say they are being held hostage, but it is even worse. Hostages get fed."
Aid was delivered to Madaya and two Shi'ite villages on January 11 for the first time in months. Madaya is besieged by pro-Syrian government forces, while the two villages in Idlib Province are encircled by rebels. More aid reached both areas on January 14.