The United nations said that the Assad regime prevented UN aid workers to accompany an aid convoy that reached Douma in eastern Ghouta outside Damascus on Sunday, saying that direct access was vital. The town is still home to tens of thousands of civilians who suffer dire living conditions and lack of essential of services.
Douma was the target of a ferocious bombing campaign by the Assad regime and Russia forces that began in early 2018 and ended in the mass forced displacement of the majority of the local population. The campaign saw the use of chemical weapons in many attacks, the last of which was the April 7 attack in Douma which killed and injured hundreds of civilians.
Panos Moumtzis, the UN regional humanitarian coordinator, called on major powers to broker a settlement to end the war and avoid a bloodbath in Idlib.
The northwest province, bordering Turkey, has become a “dumping ground” for civilians and fighters evacuated from other opposition-controlled areas, swelling its population, he said.
“With this escalation, this deterioration, we worry really about seeing 2-1/2 million people becoming displaced more and more towards the border of Turkey if this is to continue,” Moumtzis told a news briefing in Geneva.
“We also worry that for the people of Idlib, there is no other Idlib to take them out to, really this is the last location,” he said.
Moumtzis went on to say that more than 920,000 people were displaced inside Syria during the first four months of 2018, the highest level in the seven-year conflict. This has brought the number of people internally displaced in the war-ravaged country to 6.2 million, while there are still some 5.6 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, according to UN figures. More than 2.05 million people live in hard-to-reach areas, while 11,100 still live in besieged areas. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)