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.
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?
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.
Obstructing the Evacuation of the Injured and Sick
- 27 December
people besieged in Douma
civilians killed in 2018
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
ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP/Getty Images
THE CANCEROUS TUMORS IN HER THROAT ARE MULTIPLYING. I SWEAR TO YOU, SHE SPENDS DAYS WITH NO FOOD. SHE NEEDS SURGERY. SHE NEEDS CHEMOTHERAPY. WE NEED THE WORLD TO HAVE MERCY ON US AND OUR CHILDREN.
Stop the bombing of people in Eastern Ghouta Syria
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.