UN ambassador: Syrian authorities don't care about the people

8:23 pm on 19 January 2016

Syrian authorities have a callous disregard for their own people, New Zealand's representative at the United Nations says.

In the city of Aleppo, Syrian civil defense team members hold banners as they gather to protest for civilians who starved to death in Madaya.

In the city of Aleppo, Syrian civil defense team members recently held banners to protest for civilians who starved to death in Madaya. Photo: AFP

Hundreds of critical ill people are still trapped in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya.

New Zealand is still pushing for the evacuation of 400 people, saying the starvation of people in the town is a war crime.

Last week a UN convoy was allowed in to deliver food and medical supplies, but so far only one little girl has been been allowed to leave.

Ambassador Gerard Van Bohemen told Checkpoint with John Campbell that there were two main barriers.

"People can't agree on what the facts are and also there's been a callous disregard for the fate of their own people, as they go in this ridiculous power struggle that's going on. The fate of the Syrian people who they're really fighting about because it's control of the country they're talking about is just not taken into account at all."

A Syrian child eats a fruit on the outskirts of the besieged rebel-held Syrian town of Madaya.

A Syrian child eats a fruit on the outskirts of the besieged rebel-held Syrian town of Madaya. Photo: AFP

He said the situation was complicated by the fact that multiple groups had besieged a number of towns.

Mr Van Bohemen said the Syrian government was responsible for encircling many towns including Madaya; some of the opposition armed groups had also trapped towns, and IS has taken over some as well.

He said it had been difficult to get hard information out about the towns.

"The reason all of this came to the surface a week or so ago was that they were able to get some independent information to make it clear it was that bad. That basically embarrassed the Syrian government into giving access at long last."

He said the UN had confirmed people had starved to death in Madaya and others were at risk.

He said the UN was also concerned about acute medical conditions, and had requested medical access into the town if evacuations were not possible.

New Zealand's representative at the United Nations Gerard Van Bohemen.

Ambassador Gerard Van Bohemen. Photo: AFP

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