The Unfolding Humanitarian Catastrophe in Eastern Ghouta

Escalation of Attacks

Last updated: 6 April 2018 // New update from inside Eastern Ghouta

The Syrian government and its ally Russia have escalated a bombing campaign in Eastern Ghouta, an area in the Damascus Countryside home to 400,000 civilians. The attacks have left several hundreds dead and thousands injured since January 2018. This comes after six years of a cruel siege where Syrians have been trapped in a daily barrage of attacks to deliberately kill and maim them. The relentless bombing of Eastern Ghouta constitutes a flagrant war crime.

On 24 February, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted on a much-delayed resolution calling for humanitarian aid into Eastern Ghouta and a partial ceasefire. While this is a welcome development, starving civilians awaiting life-saving assistance and protection from deliberate bombardment should not have to wait on a UNSC resolution or ceasefire.

On 25 February, reports emerged of a chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta.

On 2 March, an audio update from inside Eastern Ghouta.

On 22 March, alleged Russian air strike using an incendiary weapon burned to death 37 civilians – mainly women and children – hiding in an air-raid shelter in the Syrian town of Arbin.

The situation in Eastern Ghouta is worse than words can say […] a shame to humanity.

Pediatrician, 16 February 2018

The Siege

In February 2017, the Syrian government captured the areas of al-Qaboun and Barze, which border the Harasta neighbourhood of Eastern Ghouta, and closed all smuggling tunnels that had for years guaranteed a minimum flow of food, water, and medical supplies. On 3 October, the Syrian government further tightened the siege by closing the last remaining entry point to Douma, the al-Wafideen checkpoint, impeding access to medical and humanitarian aid and barring civilian movement. Only five aid convoys have been allowed in since October, but all were significantly understocked to address the humanitarian needs of the population, and all medical supplies were removed by the government. Since October, the humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta has significantly deteriorated with prices of medicine and basic food supplies, like milk and bread, skyrocketing.

On 11 March, The Syrian government advanced into Eastern Ghouta splitting the area into three besieged enclaves: Douma, Harasta and Middle Sector encompassing several neighbourhoods and towns- prohibiting the movement of civilians from one sector to the other.

There are no humanitarian corridors. It was always a sham. Are they really expecting us to believe that they will keep us safe? The same government that shelled us and attacked us, will now protect us?

Abd, resident of Douma in Eastern Ghouta

Since 22 March, 13,000 fighters, their families and others have been evacuated from Harasta, Zamalka, Arbin and Ain Tarma to Idleb and Hama after Russia reached a deal with Ahrar al-Sham Islamic Movement and Faylaq al-Rahman. As of 23 March, Douma remains the last pocket besieged by the Syrian government with negotiations ongoing and around 400 people already evacuated on 1 April.

In July 2017, 558 people in Eastern Ghouta were in need of medical evacuation.
14 people died in Eastern Ghouta while waiting for medical evacuation
29 emergency medical cases are evacuated under a deal with the government
An escalation of attacks in February and March 2018 brings the number of people needing urgent medical evacuation to 1069
35 medical patients are evacuated by the Syrian Red Crescent under UN supervision in Eastern Ghouta.
Today, 1034 people in need of urgent medical attention await evacuation from Eastern Ghouta.

In numbers

people besieged in Douma
people left Eastern Ghouta since March
civilians killed in 2018
hospitals attacked

A Humanitarian Crisis

Doctors and medical workers are unable to provide adequate medical care to the injured and ill due to lack of adequate surgical supplies, medical equipment and medicine, particularly for treatment of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. As a result, doctors are using expired medicine from destroyed hospitals. There has additionally been a rise in cases of acute malnutrition, especially in children, exacerbated by the lack of access to food, humanitarian aid, and other life-saving necessities.

Watch testimonies from inside the siege:

Mother of 4-year-old Rama Helwi, whose daughter has throat and nose cancer

Hajji Bahgat Dayy, 76 and in urgent need of medical attention 


Rama Helwi’s mother on 19 Feb 2018

Syria’s Eastern Ghouta: They Fight for Life. We Fight for Them.

Stop the bombing of people in Eastern Ghouta Syria

The Syrian government, backed by Russia, is bombing its own people in Eastern Ghouta. Scores of people have been killed and hundreds injured in the past month.

This is not new for the people of Eastern Ghouta: people who’ve been trapped in a cruel siege for nearly six years are now being attacked daily, killed and maimed by their government. Children and elderly people are dying of malnutrition and lack of medication.

Tell the Syrian and Russian governments to end the attacks and lift the siege on Eastern Ghouta immediately.

The attacks must be stopped. Humanitarian aid must be allowed into Eastern Ghouta.

We succeeded in creating pressure and noise around the world for Aleppo – and we can succeed in helping the people under attack in Eastern Ghouta.

A Deliberate Strategy of Forced Displacement