There is harrowing news out of Moadamiya, Syria in the last few weeks. There are still an estimated 8,000 people in this town southeast of Damascus, which has been reportedly under siege since October 2012. Dozens of people have apparently died of starvation in this town, and as winter comes, there is fear of many more deaths. One local leader, Qusai Zakarya, has been on hunger strike since November 26 to pressure domestic and international groups to deliver food to starving civilians in Moadamiya and elsewhere.
The story of this place is echoed around Syria, where we have been hearing reports for months of Syrians resorting to desperate measures to eat. But there have also been some cases where locals have negotiated ceasefires between rebels groups and the regime so that food aid could come in.
Today’s puzzler is therefore twofold: why deny food aid into areas under siege? And — perhaps even more importantly — why allow food into some besieged towns but not others?