At least five US citizens are among those suffering in the Syrian town of Madaya, where UN convoys have arrived with much-needed food. "Right now, my kids are starving from hunger," the wife of a 43-year-old naturalized US citizen, who left Pennsylvania in 2006 to start an apple export business in Madaya, tells MSNBC. "My baby is 3 years old. All day long, the only words he says are: 'I'm hungry. I need food.'" Three of the couple's five children, ages 14, 13, and 9, are also US citizens born in Pennsylvania, says US-based Syrian activist Hussein Assaf, the man's cousin. Assaf asked that his relatives not be named.
A UN food convoy arrived in Madaya on Monday, and officials say 44 truckloads of food and medicine have been distributed, per DPA. Aid also was handed out in the nearby towns of Foua and Kefraya, reports CNN. Officials say the food should last about a month. Assaf, who lives in Pennsylvania, says he constantly worries about his relatives and eats only about "half a meal" once a day. "Subconsciously, I feel guilty that I'm eating and they're not," he says. Emails obtained by MSNBC suggest that Assaf’s cousin asked the State Department to help his family escape Syria in October. "They shut down all roads, and we can't leave," he wrote in an email. The response: "Dear Sir, unfortunately, we are unable to assist you in this issue and you are advised to consider other options." (Read more Syria stories.)