sirija izbjeglice.jpg
Photograph: EPA/SANA

A convoy of trucks carrying food and medical aid arrived Monday at a government checkpoint outside the besieged Syrian town of Madaya, where Doctors without Borders (MSF) says almost 30 people have died of starvation.

Some 40 trucks were waiting early on Monday afternoon to enter the town, Pawel Krzysiek of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

The aid convoy would not cross into Madaya until a parallel convoy was able to enter two government-held Shiite villages besieged by Islamist rebels in north-western Syria, Krzysiek said.

A source in the Syrian Red Crescent said some 330 tonnes of food and medical aid were being sent to Madaya, enough to last for about 40 days.

Located about 25 kilometres north-west of the capital, the town has been under siege since July by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, aided by the allied Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement.

Over 20,000 people are currently trapped inside Madaya, according to MSF, which said overnight that five more people had died there due to starvation.

The group last week said 23 people had died of starvation in the town's hospital, which it supports, since the beginning of December.

The Shiite villages of Foua and Kafraya, in north-western Idlib province, have been besieged by rebels since April.

At least one person has died there due to lack of food and medical supplies, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Mazen Burhan, a member of the Madaya Humanitarian Committee, said the trucks were expected to enter the town later in the afternoon as they have to pass through a number of checkpoints.

"They will need to pass at least 20 checkpoints," Burhan said.

Representative from the ICRC and the Syrian Red Crescent entered the town shortly after noon ahead of the arrival of the aid convoy, he added.

MSF said that they have asked for food supplies, therapeutic food for treating malnutrition, and a basic package of essential medicines and medical supplies to enable the makeshift hospital in Madaya to keep running.

The group warned that regular supplies to Madaya are essential and a one-time delivery of aid will not be enough.

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