The Assad regime continues to block the evacuation of the sick and wounded from the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta which has been under siege by regime forces since 2013. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Monday warned of a humanitarian crisis in the rebel-held area.
“The humanitarian situation in eastern Ghouta has reached a critical point. As so often in Syria over the last six years, ordinary people are once again trapped in a situation where life slowly becomes impossible and where goods and aid are severely limited,” the ICRC’s Middle East director, Robert Mardini, said in a statement.
“Some families can afford to eat only one meal a day, an especially sad situation for people with children. As a result, most people have been relying entirely on aid from humanitarian organizations,” Mardini said.
Mardini went on: “In addition, medical workers on the ground report hundreds of sick and wounded people are deprived from life-saving medical care. The cold weather threatens to further deteriorate the situation. With almost no fuel available, people have very little access to proper heating, further risking their health.”
“Chronic disease sufferers and people with severe injuries are struggling to access care. The sick and injured must not be used as pawns in negotiations between the different parties involved in the fighting. Medical attention must be promptly given to those who need it irrespective of who they are,” Mardini added.
Thirty-two cancer patients have died in eastern Ghouta in recent months due to lack of necessary medicines and the siege imposed by regime forces.
During the latest round of peace talks in Geneva, the Syrian opposition’s Negotiations Committee called for an end to the bombardment on eastern Ghouta and the evacuation of the sick and wounded. In early December, the United Nations said that some 540 people, including 137 children, needed urgent medical evacuation.
In early May, regime forces prevented the delivery of medical supplies and fuel to eastern Ghouta and allowed only six trucks loaded with food and detergents into the besieged enclave. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)