• Switzerland's news in English
Thousands may have starved in Syria: UN
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein (right) in Geneva. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Thousands may have starved in Syria: UN

AFP · 29 Feb 2016, 13:42

Published: 29 Feb 2016 13:42 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"The deliberate starvation of people is unequivocally forbidden as a weapon of warfare. By extension, so are sieges, which deprive civilians of essential goods such as food," Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said.

In an address opening the UN Human Rights Council's main annual session in Geneva, Zeid pointed to the desperate situation of the estimated 480,000 people "currently trapped in besieged towns and villages in Syria – and have been, in some cases for years."

Aid workers say several dozen people have died of starvation just in Madaya, which became a symbol of the plight of besieged Syrians after shocking images of starving residents spread last month.

But Zeid warned the situation could be far more dire.

"Thousands of people may have starved to death," he said.

His comments came as the UN was preparing to deliver aid to thousands of besieged civilians in Syria Monday amid a fragile ceasefire.

The first major truce in five years, which after three days remained largely intact, was expected to allow aid workers to bring supplies to an additional 154,000 people living in besieged areas over the next five days.

But Zeid lamented that prior to the temporary cessation of hostilities that began on Saturday, human rights in the country had been "violated shockingly" for nearly five years.

Story continues below…

"Neighbourhoods, schools and packed marketplaces have been hit by tens of thousands of air strikes, thousands of barrel bombs have been thrown out of helicopters onto streets and homes," he said of the conflict which has cost more than 270,000 lives.

He also decried that some parties "are targeting medical units deliberately, or with reckless disregard", noting that at least 10 hospitals and other medical units have been damaged or destroyed just since the beginning of the year.


For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Police discover body buried in Orbe house
File photo: Bas Leenders

Police have opened an investigation after finding a body buried in a house in Orbe, in the canton of Vaud, on Saturday.

Valais shaken by 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The earthquake hit in the canton of Valais near Sierre. Photo: Alain Rouiller

It's the biggest earthquake to hit the country for two years.

Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Muslim woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available