The UN children’s agency has called for the immediate evacuation of scores of sick Syrian children from the besieged eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus.
In a statement on Sunday, UNICEF said that five children in Eastern Ghouta have already died, while 137 others require immediate medical assistance.
The children, aged seven months to 17 years, are unable to access medical help for conditions ranging from kidney failure and severe malnutrition to wounds sustained from bombardment.
Muhammed Kuttoub, representative of the Syrian-American Medical Society (SAMS) aid group which runs treatment centers in eastern Ghouta, said that the Assad regime’s relentless aerial attacks are deliberately targeting medical facilities in the besieged rebel-held area.
The United Nations earlier warned of an impending disaster affecting an estimated 400,000 people who are living in besieged eastern Ghouta due to lack of relief aid and the Assad regime’s prevention of hundreds of people in need of urgent medical evacuation from leaving the area.
Despite being covered by the ‘de-escalation zones’ agreement, besieged eastern Ghouta has been subjected to intensified bombing campaign by the Assad regime’s and Russian air forces since mid-November. The bombardment has considerably exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation caused by the blockade and the scarcity of food and medical supplies.
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. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Al-Jazeera)