Madaya, Syria

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Madaya is located in Syria
Location in Syria
Coordinates: 33°41′16″N 36°06′3″E / 33.68778°N 36.10083°E / 33.68778; 36.10083
Country  Syria
Governorate Rif Dimashq Governorate
District Al-Zabadani District
Nahiyah Madaya
Elevation 1,344 m (4,409 ft)
Population (2004 census)[1]
 • Total 9,371

Madaya (Arabic: مضايا‎‎) is a small mountainous town in Syria, located at an altitude of around 1,300 metres (4,300 ft).[2] It is a well known holiday resort.[3] It is located about 40 kilometres (25 mi) northwest of Damascus in the Rif Dimashq Governorate and is home to Lake Barada. Madaya often is snow-top during the winter months especially on January and February. According to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Madaya had a population of 9,371 in the 2004 census.[1] Its inhabitants are predominantly Sunni Muslims.[4]

In early January 2016, the town became an object of a global propaganda campaign waged by the Syrian opposition.[5][6][7] Video from Syrian activists in January 2016 has shown opposition militants blocking food from entering the town rather than government forces.[8] Local population has demonstrated in favor of the Assad Government.[9] The Assad government in agreement with the joint statement on January 7th, 2016 by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria and the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, has called for aid to reenter the besieged town.[10] Al Jazeera was accused of providing fake images of starving children claiming they were from Madaya.[11]


It is famous for its pure natural spring water, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy climate. Dry and cool in the summer, Madaya until recently had attracted wealthy Syrians many of which have summer mansions in the town. It also has a large market (souq) known for its European-made goods, such as sportswear and electronics, which makes visiting it quite an appealing experience for tourists.



Syrian civil war[edit]

Main article: Syrian Civil War

Since July 2015, the town has been besieged by a combination of Syrian forces loyal to the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the allied Lebanese militia Hezbollah.[12] In December 2015, Doctors Without Borders reported that 23 people had died of starvation[13] after a total blockade prevented any food or humanitarian aid to enter since 18 October.[13] United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon expressed alarm at the situation in Madaya[14] as well as in other besieged areas in Syria, and warned that the use of starvation as weapon during conflict is a war crime.

On 7 January 2016, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs issued a statement[15] calling for unimpeded access to deliver emergency assistance to Madaya, Al-Fu'ah and Kafriya. Amid calls from United Nations officials[16] and dozens of humanitarian organizations[17] to intervene, the United Nations negotiated a deal between the Syrian government and rebels holding the town to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid, which was carried out on 11 January 2016.[18]


  1. ^ a b General Census of Population and Housing 2004. Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Rif Dimashq Governorate. (Arabic)
  2. ^ "Madaya, Syria Page". Retrieved 2007-09-15. 
  3. ^ Northern Syria. Retrieved 2007-09-15. 
  4. ^ Smith, 1841, p. 146.
  5. ^ Dozens die of hunger in besieged Syrian town FT, 8 January 2015.
  6. ^ Evan Davis, Mark Urban (12 January 2016). Newsnight - 12/01/2016. Newsnight. BBC. Event occurs at 26m44s onward. Retrieved 16 January 2016. But the case has been marred by some instances where disturbing pictures of emaciated people from different times and places have been used to represent Madaya, something quickly picked up by Russia's RT television: "This picture shows a starving man said to be from Madaya, who turns out to be a drug addict in Europe from 2009". 
  7. ^ "First aid convoys enter besieged Syrian town of Madaya". RT. 11 January 2016. Retrieved 16 January 2016. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Khushbu Shah, Nick Paton Walsh and Peter Wilkinson, CNN (7 January 2016). "Madaya: Syria allows aid into besieged city -". CNN. 
  13. ^ a b "Siege and starvation in Madaya; immediate medical evacuations and medical resupply essential to save lives". Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International. Retrieved 2016-01-14. 
  14. ^ Rivett-Carnac, Mark. "U.N. Chief Warns Syria Starvation Is a War Crime". Retrieved 2016-01-23. 
  15. ^ Section, United Nations News Service (2016-01-07). "UN News - UN calls for humanitarian access to besieged areas in Syria, welcomes new approvals from Government". UN News Service Section. Retrieved 2016-01-14. 
  16. ^ "Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kyung-Wha Kang Security Council Briefing on Syria, New York, 15 January 2016". ReliefWeb. Retrieved 2016-01-23. 
  17. ^ "Joint statement: An appeal to end the suffering in Syria [EN/AR/FR/SP/RU/CH]". ReliefWeb. Retrieved 2016-01-23. 
  18. ^ Kareem Shaheen (11 January 2016). "Trucks from aid convoy enter besieged Syrian town of Madaya". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 January 2016. 


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