An aid convoy designated to bring relief to the starving citizens in the Syrian town of Madaya is expected to be dispatched today (11 January). A spokesperson for the UN's refugee agency has said that it is "pretty confident" the mission would be launched on schedule.
Madaya is home to around 42,000 citizens who have been forced to live under siege from Syrian government forces and its allies in Lebanon's Hezbollah group since early July. According to reports, the situation is so dire that people have been left with no choice other than to eat grass and even pets in a desperate bid to keep hunger at bay.
"I have just got confirmation that our humanitarian convoy will leave tomorrow (Monday) morning," the UN refugee agency's spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told the BBC. "This is typical that it takes a while — the administrative hurdles are constant," she continued.
The UN supplies were prepared in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and they will bring one month's worth of relief to Madaya's suffering civilians, many of whom are reported to be surviving on salt water. The provisions include rice, which costs £170 ($247) per kilo, and medicine.
Harrowing images of the situation in Madaya sparked international outrage, with many people demanding that world leaders take action to alleviate the desperate situation. Last week, the World Food Programme (WFP) said an estimated 200,000 people around Syria face the prospect of starvation due to armed grounds intentionally halting food supplies.
An online petition calling on the British government to begin aid drops to the starving people of Syria has garnered more than 48,230 signatures. At 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.
Similar relief missions in the government-held towns of Foah and Kefraya in northwestern Syria have also been discussed, according to the BBC. An estimated 30,000 people are believed to be trapped in the embattled areas.