WHO: Assad Regime Blocks Evacuation of 480 Patients from Besieged Eastern Ghouta
The UN and World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday said that nearly 500 sick and wounded patients await medical evacuation from the rebel-held Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta, something the Assad regime has not granted.
Malnutrition rates in the besieged area are now “the highest seen so far in Syria since the beginning of the crisis”, WHO representative in Syria Elizabeth Hoff said.
A nutritional survey done in eastern Ghouta during the first half of November collected data on more than 300 children between the age of six months and five years, Hoff said.
“The survey data results indicate a deterioration in the nutrition situation among children under the age of five years old,” the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO said in the findings.
Al-Ghouta Media Center on Friday said that there are 559 cancer patients in the besieged eastern Ghouta who need urgent medical evacuation.
On late November, the UN health agency expressed concern that lack of essential health services, as well as limited electricity, fuel, safe drinking water and basic sanitation services are increasing the risk of disease outbreaks such as diarrheal diseases, typhoid and hepatitis in eastern Ghouta.
Hoff said that WHO, along with partners, stands ready to respond to health needs once access is granted.
Last week, the United Nations called on world powers to help evacuate the patient and wounded from eastern Ghouta, warning that the area has become a "humanitarian emergency."
UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said two patients had died this week while awaiting evacuation, and nine last week.
Eastern Ghouta has been subjected to four-year-long siege by the Assad regime and its allied Iranian militias, causing severe shortages of food and medical supplies. In recent weeks, regime forces have stepped up bombardment on the area even though it is covered by the ‘de-escalation zones’ agreement reached in the Kazakh capital Astana in September. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)