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Aid convoy brings temporary relief to besieged Madaya

For the citizens of Madaya in Syria, long besieged by war, it's been months since they ate properly. After lengthy negotiations by the UN and international aid groups to deliver food and medicine, relief has finally arrived, but the problems are not solved. Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Now we turn to another consequence of the Syria war, and a weapon used against civilians caught in the middle of that brutal conflict.

    We begin with a report from Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News

  • LINDSEY HILSUM:

    It's months since they ate properly. Are these tears of hunger or relief? Because, finally, after night fell, food arrived, some of it to eat right now, no waiting.

  • WOMAN (through interpreter):

    The situation in Madaya is so bad. Before the siege, we used to live a proper life, but when the armed rebels entered the village and did what they did, they revealed their true colors.

  • LINDSEY HILSUM:

    It's a delicate situation for the U.N. and the Red Cross and Crescent, who are strictly neutral. They negotiated for months to get food and medicine into Madaya, besieged by the government, and two villages besieged by the rebels, relief for tit for tat starving.

  • WOMAN (through interpreter):

    People with no electricity are burning shoes and plastic bags to stay warm. People are in the street looking for food in the rubbish.

  • LINDSEY HILSUM:

    This is Madaya clinic. The few health professionals left in town were pleased to get badly need medicines brought by the convoy. But aid agencies say up to 400 people should be evacuated immediately because they have serious illnesses that need treatment that's impossible in these conditions.

  • WOMAN (through interpreter):

    My son has hepatitis and he has to leave. I have a medical report and I want the take him out. There are neither medicines, nor doctors. There is nothing.

  • LINDSEY HILSUM:

    The convoy succeeded, but the problem is not solved, and there are dozens of besieged places in Syria.

    PAWEL KRZYSIEK, International Committee of the Red Cross: They're the hardest moments to see, to listen to those people, to hear their concerns, and to realize that, you know, one-time distribution will not solve the long-term problem of the people living in the besieged areas, no matter where they are, in Madaya, Foua and Kefraya, Deir el-Zour. We just need to be able to come back and bring the aid on a regular basis.

  • LINDSEY HILSUM:

    So much ruin. Government barrel bombs have destroyed the Damascus suburb of Daraya, but when they bring their tanks, the rebels destroy them.

    And in Idlib today, more Russian airstrikes; 37 people were reported killed. As long as this goes on, there will be no real relief for the besieged people of Syria.

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