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Children are starving to death in Syria

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Syrian children, including this one-year-old, are dying from starvation and the regime is barring food and medicine from entering the country.  (Source: YouTube/CNN) Syrian children, including this one-year-old, are dying from starvation and the regime is barring food and medicine from entering the country. (Source: YouTube/CNN)
The U.N. World Food Program has limited access to the outskirts of Damascus. (Source: YouTube/CNN) The U.N. World Food Program has limited access to the outskirts of Damascus. (Source: YouTube/CNN)
Doctors at one hospital say that of 43 people who have died from starvation, 22 were children. (Source: YouTube/CNN) Doctors at one hospital say that of 43 people who have died from starvation, 22 were children. (Source: YouTube/CNN)

(CNN) – While the civil war wages on in Syria, some of its smallest victims are starving. It's a problem that is only getting worse.

One-year-old Farah Atout was rushed to a pediatrician, emaciated. Her cheeks were hollow, her ribs visible through pale skin, her every breath was a struggle.

Her mother said she had nothing to feed her child.

"There is no food, no sugar, no milk, no rice, there is nothing," Farah's mother said. "She lives on tahini, without sugar because there is no sugar. No milk no breads. I cannot find any milk"

Within 48 hours, Farah died. Her mother collapsed with grief.

While the video's authenticity could not be verified, the pediatrician who treated Farah says there is no doubt the child died of starvation.

Farah lived in the rebel-held area of eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus. The Syrian regime has barred any food and medicine entering for months. Not just in Ghouta, south of Damascus in the area of Yarmouk, as well.

The U.N. World Food Program has been demanding access to these areas with limited success. It estimates that hundreds of thousands of people have been besieged like this. So far, the WFP has been able to reach about three million within Syria with food aid. But it believes there are still about a million more who are desperately in need.

"This underlines exactly why humanitarian agencies like the WFP have been calling for more access, Greg Barrow of the World Food Program said. "To really see with their eyes: What is the scale of the problem? Who is most vulnerable? What kind of assistance they need? And how we can get it in fast? That is absolutely critical. The first, 1000 days of life, from conception to 2 years are absolutely critical as far as nutrition and the developmental foundations of life are concerned. If the child in the womb of a pregnant mother, and the mother isn't getting the food she needs and there is this obstacle in the way of getting access to this kind of vital nutrients they need to grow. They are not going to recover. That is a real tragedy. "

There has been a sharp rise in reports of severe malnutrition in the region. A YouTube video shows a man from eastern Gouta as he lifts the shirt of a 10-year-old child to show the visible ribs and sunken belly. He holds up the child's frail arm and says to the camera,

"Look what happened because of the siege. Look what happened to our children. They destroyed our homes and in the end they say we are terrorists. Is this child a terrorist?"

At one hospital, doctors say at least 43 people have died of starvation, 22 of them are children, including an infant, little more than a year old.

Like so many videos, there is no way to confirm the authenticity, but one thing is clear: many more children are in danger of starving to death.

Without immediate aid, this may be the terrible fate that awaits some of the youngest victims of Syria's civil war.

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