Eastern Ghouta is an agricultural region east of Damascus that is home to approximately 400,000 people. The area has faced access restrictions since the beginning of the Syrian conflict and was classified by the United Nations (UN) as besieged in 2013. Since September 2017, the humanitarian situation in this area has deteriorated significantly. This Situation Overview, which is based on interviews conducted remotely with Community Representatives, builds on a previous product from October to investigate how conditions developed in November.
Access to Eastern Ghouta improved slightly in November. Commercial movement into the area resumed, after no commercial deliveries reportedly took place in September or October. A number of humanitarian aid deliveries took place, and aid that entered in October was distributed. However, these deliveries were insufficient to counter the unprecedented price increases in Eastern Ghouta. In November, a standard food basket was reportedly 911% more expensive than in nearby areas not considered besieged or hard-to-reach. Basic commodities such as salt and sugar were respectively 14,129% and 4,556% more expensive than in nearby areas. Deaths due to malnutrition and a lack of food also continued to be reported.
Eastern Ghouta also continued to face severe shortages of fuel and medicine in November, as both types of items only entered the area in very small proportions. The lack of fuel has had a negative impact on the availability of a number of services, such as transportation, water, medical care and electricity. Residents reportedly coped by burning plastic to make fuel. Existing stockpiles of medical items also continued to be depleted rapidly.
The area continued to suffer from conflict-related violence in November. Public facilities such as schools and hospitals were reportedly struck by shelling4, which led to the suspension of all educational activities. In order to limit their exposure to aerial attacks, residents reportedly restricted their own movement.
Due to the high food prices and shortage of fuel, residents are ill-prepared for the remainder of the winter season. Unless access restrictions on Eastern Ghouta ease, it is unlikely that humanitarian conditions will improve.