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U.N. Chief Warns Syria That Starvation Is a War Crime

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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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Write to Mark Rivett-Carnac at mark.rivett-carnac@timeasia.com