● Ongoing hostilities and military operations in East Ghouta have led to a continued influx of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to Rural Damascus and has severely impacted the protection and well-being of civilians inside the enclave.
● People living inside besieged areas of East Ghouta have critical humanitarian needs, particularly in relation to protection, food, health, nutrition, shelter, NFIs and WASH. Access, however, remains extremely limited.
● Since 11 March, the total estimated number of internally displaced people at collective shelters exceeded 50,000 people, more than double what was reported on 17 March.
● Most shelters do not have the capacity or infrastructure to accommodate the large number of people arriving. Some sites are not suitable to host IDPs and overcrowding is impeding needed rehabilitation work.
● A number of protection concerns have been identified at the collective shelters, such as GBV risks, unaccompanied and separated children, and restrictions on the movement of IDPs.
● The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), UN, NGOs and other partners have mobilized a rapid response, with NFIs, food, shelter, WASH, health, nutrition and protection assistance being provided.
● Shelter, protection and WASH services remain the key priorities. Overall, there is an urgent need for better site management in shelters to improve coordination and service delivery.
Ongoing hostilities and military operations in East Ghouta have led to a continued influx of IDPs to Rural Damascus and has severely impacted the protection and well-being of civilians inside the enclave. Since 18 February, nearly 1,600 civilians have been killed (according to triangulated data from local sources); thousands more injured and tens of thousands displaced.
On 20 March, aerial bombardment on Douma and Arbin reportedly killed dozens of people. On the same day, a Syrian NGO reported that a hospital they support in Arbin was hit, killing one patient and destroying several floors. Heavy clashes also took place on the outskirts of Misraba. On 19 March, airstrikes reportedly hit several locations in East Ghouta including a building in Harasta where IDPs were staying, a school in Arbin which was also being used as a shelter, in addition to Douma City. On 19 March alone, an estimated 44 civilians were reportedly killed by hostilities in East Ghouta.
With continued intensive military operations and artillery shelling and airstrikes on Arbin, Ein Tarma, Zamalka, Douma and Harasta, among other areas, civilians continue to be sheltered in underground shelters, most of which are overcrowded and with unsanitary conditions. On 20 March, shelling towards Damascus resulted in at least 35 people killed and 15 injured at a crowded market place in the Kashkoul area in the outskirts of the capital.
As the frontline shifts in East Ghouta, displacement out of the enclave has continued at a significant scale. Since 11 March, the total estimated number of internally displaced people at collective shelters exceeded 50,000 people, more than double what was reported on 17 March. To respond to the growing number of IDPs, additional shelters are being established, most recently in Nashabiyeh and Najha. However, most shelters, such as Adra OCHA Flash Update Syria Crisis – East Ghouta No. 3 21 March 2018 and Herjelleh, continue to be extremely crowded. To relieve some of the pressure, there is an urgent need to identify more shelters, with enough lead time to be able to carry out necessary rehabilitation work.
Several thousand people are estimated to have remained in areas of East Ghouta that have recently changed control, such as Saqba, Hammouriya and Kafr Batna. Efforts are ongoing to better understand their humanitarian needs, which are likely to be significant.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.