The World Health Organization (WHO) said that health officials in eastern Ghouta have reported that 84 people have been killed and another 659 injured in intensified bombardments by Assad regime forces on the rebel-held area during a 4-day period alone from 14 to 17 November.
The Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta has been subjected to years-long siege by the Assad regime and its allied Iranian militias. In recent weeks, regime forces have stepped up bombardment on eastern Ghouta even though the area is covered by the ‘de-escalation zones’ agreement.
In a statement released on Wednesday, WHO 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.
The UN health agency warned that inter-agency convoys to the area have been irregular, and the aid provided has been insufficient to meet the increasing needs of up to 400,000 people besieged for more than four years.
The agency also said that medical centers in eastern Ghouta conducted more than 200 operations in the period from 14 to 17 November despite blockages that have prevented deliveries of humanitarian aid including life-saving medicines, medical equipment, and surgical supplies.
The medical evacuation plan, developed by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the World Health Organization to transfer critically ill patients to key referral hospitals in Damascus, Rural Damascus and Idleb governorates, has remained unapproved, WHO added.
WHO Representative in Syria Elizabeth Hoff said that WHO, along with partners, stands ready to respond to health needs once access is granted.
Assad regime forces block the entry of UN and international organizations’ teams to the besieged areas in violation of UN resolutions, most notably UN Security Council resolution 2254 which called for the lifting of the blockades and allowing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need.
Local councils in Rural Damascus earlier called on the international community and the United Nations to shoulder their moral and legal responsibilities towards civilians trapped in eastern Ghouta and to take urgent action to alleviate their suffering.
The Syrian Coalition said that military escalation by regime forces and their allies is aimed at undermining chances for political solution by insisting on committing crimes and pursuing murderous policies. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)