Residents of the besieged rebel-held Syrian town of Madaya wait for a convoy of aid from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent on Jan. 14, 2016
Louai Beshara—AFP/Getty Images
By Mark Rivett-Carnac
January 15, 2016

Using starvation as a weapon during conflict is a war crime, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned warring parties in Syria on Thursday, calling the ongoing sieges “utterly unconscionable.”

All sides in the nearly six-year conflict are guilty of acts prohibited by international humanitarian law, Ban said according to a U.N. statement.

These warning came just days after the Syrian Government allowed aid into the three besieged towns. U.N. humanitarian teams who entered the rebel-held town of Madaya on Monday described seeing “elderly and children, men and women, who were little more than skin and bones.”

But the citizens of Madaya are just some of the 400,000 people the U.N. estimates are living behind blockades. “I would say they are being held hostage, but it is even worse,” Ban said. “Hostages get fed.”

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