The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that at least 30 children were killed in the first two weeks of 2018 in eastern Ghouta, a Damascus suburb that is under siege by regime forces.
“It is shocking that only in the first 14 days of the year more than 30 children have been killed in escalating violence in East Ghouta, where an estimated 200,000 children have been trapped under siege since 2013,” UNICEF Representative in Syria, Fran Equiza, said in a statement Monday.
Equiza said that two medical facilities came under attack in the past days in eastern Ghouta, and most health centers had to close. “In some areas, mobile emergency clinics are the only way for families to receive medical treatment and aid.”
Some 120 children are in urgent need of medical treatment and are awaiting the opportunity to leave the besieged area, the statement added. Assad regime and Russian forces have stepped up military operations in the rebel-held area in recent months.
The United Nations human rights chief on Wednesday condemned an upsurge in civilian casualties in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta amid the recent escalation in airstrikes and ground-based attacks by Assad regime forces and their allies.
“The reports emerging from Eastern Ghouta of civilian casualties as a result of airstrikes suggest that attacking forces may be failing to abide by the international humanitarian law principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions, raising concerns that war crimes may have been committed,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
Some 400,000 civilians currently trapped in eastern Ghouta live in tragic conditions as a result of the crippling siege and relentless bombardment by Assad forces which has been ongoing for years.
In early January, Amnesty International said that the Assad regime had used Soviet-made internationally banned cluster munitions in attacks on populated areas in eastern Ghouta, accusing it of committing war crimes on “an epic scale.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)