PHOTO: Children in Madaya appeal for aid, January 2016

Doctors in Madaya, northwest of Damascus, have said that residents are still starving amid an eight-month siege by the Syrian military and Hezbollah.

More than 70 people have reportedly died from malnutrition since December 1. Amid growing international attention, the Assad regime relented and allowed four aid convoys in January and February. However, two doctors and several activists told Syria Direct that the food was not sufficient to avoid malnutrition.

“The humanitarian aid that entered had little protein, which led to liver and kidney function failing, as well as the failure to absorb food through the gut,” Mohammed Yusuf, head of the Medical Society in Madaya.

The lack of protein leads to bloating because of retention of fluid in the face and body. More than 2,000 residents have sought help, and 112 have been diagnosed with severe malnutrition.

Yusuf also said that people are suffering from a lack of essential fluids and vitamins.

Four Madaya residents have died of complications over the past two weeks, said Hussam Madaya of the United Aid Society on Tuesday.

A spokesman for UNICEF, Kieran Dwyer, said convoys “delivered nutrition items sufficient to treat 920 cases of severe acute malnutrition, as well as other supplies for prevention of micronutrient and acute malnutrition among children and mothers” during the January and February deliveries.

Dwyer added that UNICEF wanted to bring nutrition kits to treat 200 acute cases with medical complications, “but these kits were not approved by the government and were not delivered”.

World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said supplies sufficient “to treat 100 cases of complicated severe acute malnutrition with health complications” have been delivered.