Saturday, 10 February 2018 17:54

Aid Group: Humanitarian Intervention Urgently Needed in Eastern Ghouta

The International Humanitarian Relief (IHR) aid group said that up to 10,400 families in eastern Ghouta are in urgent need for humanitarian intervention. It warned that about 12.6 percent of the total population of the Damascus suburb have been affected at all levels by the intensified bombing campaign the Assad regime has unleashed in eastern Ghouta over the past three months.

The NGO said that more than 4,100 families currently live in underequipped cellars with poor hygiene causing the spread of many diseases, especially among children.

IHR said pointed out that at least 206 civilians were killed in eastern Ghouta in January, including 53 children and 35 women as well as two volunteers with the civil defense.

The aid group pointed out that 150 people were killed in the period between 1-10 January, while around 915 others were injured, including 227 children and 221 women as well as five rescue workers. It noted that violence in the besieged area has intensified to “frightening levels” in recent weeks.

Medical sources in the area reported the use of chlorine gas in three instances in the town of Douma since the beginning of 2018 causing more than 27 people, mostly children and women, to suffer from asphyxiation.

The NGO quoted educational officials as saying that the bombing campaign on eastern Ghouta caused partial damage to 34 schools and completely destroyed 11 others. It added that the bombings killed 10 schoolchildren and teachers as well as injured 16 others.

According to the aid group, the latest military escalation by the Assad regime led to the suspension of the education process in all the 253 schools in eastern Ghouta. The decision to suspend schools affected around 57,132 schoolchildren as their midterm exams were postponed and also led to the suspension of the work of around 4,866 teachers.

The most urgent needs IHR has assessed include immediate response in the areas of food security, shelter and non-food needs such as hygiene kits and winter clothes for thousands of families who have become homeless either because their homes were destroyed or because they had to move deeper inside eastern Ghouta to escape the relentless bombardment.

On February 1st, Jan Egeland, adviser to the UN special envoy for Syria, called for a humanitarian truce to be urgently declared in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta, stressing that the humanitarian situation has further deteriorated in the rebel-held area.

Briefing reporters in Geneva after a meeting of a UN-supported humanitarian task force, Egeland said that the most recent aid convoy arrived on the 28th November 2017, in the town of al-Nashibiya, and consisted of aid for only 7,200 people. He noted that the UN agencies has not been allowed to carry out medical evacuations since end of December.

The International Humanitarian Relief called on all international actors and donors to deal more seriously with the catastrophic humanitarian situation in eastern Ghouta. The recent intensification of violence in the area has further worsened the suffering of around 360,000 people who have been trapped in the Damascus suburb which has been subjected to tightened siege for nearly five years. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Baladi News Network)

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