UN chief Ban Ki-moon says the use of food as a weapon against the Syrian people is a war crime amid reports of severe malnourishment in some besieged towns.
Some 400,000 people in Syria are under siege amidst a civil war between the Assad government and warring rebel groups which has engulfed the country for five years.
"Let me be clear: the use of starvation as a weapon of war is a war crime," Ban said on Thursday. "I would say they are being held hostage, but it is even worse. Hostages get fed."
Ban's remarks came after humanitarian aid made its way into the town of Madaya in the southwest and Kefraya and al-Foua in Idlib Province which are besieged by militants.
The Assad government recently agreed to facilitate the flow of relief aid into Madaya which is under the army siege.
Fifty trucks carrying international aid supplies left Damascus for Madaya on Thursday. Another convoy of 44 humanitarian aid trucks entered the city on Monday.
Ban said, "In 2014, the UN and partners were able to deliver food to about 5 percent of people in besieged areas. Today, we are reaching less than 1 percent. This is utterly unconscionable."
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