Over 80,000 people have fled East Ghouta since 9 March, with 50,722 people currently being hosted in eight collective shelters in Rural Damascus. The conditions in the shelters are often dire, with overcrowding and poor sanitation.
Following a series of local agreements, leading to evacuations from Harasta and the Ein Terma/Kafr Batna/Hezzeh areas, the Duma area now constitutes the only besieged part of East Ghouta.
Sustained hostilities in Duma have led to a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation inside the area. The UN and partners are appealing to all parties to the conflict to urgently allow for humanitarian access to the besieged population in Duma.
The UN and partners require $115m to respond with life-saving assistance and protection services to all those displaced to shelters in Rural Damascus as well as to individuals who have stayed in areas of East Ghouta where shifts in control have occurred. There is currently a $74m funding gap. Additional financial support is needed to assist the people who have been evacuated to Idleb.
Since 09 March 2018, after years of besiegement and an intensification of hostilities over the last two months, advances by the Government of Syria (GoS) have triggered the displacement of some 80,000 individuals outside of besieged East Ghouta. The vast majority of individuals have left besieged East Ghouta through established corridors,, with an estimated 13,000 individuals, mostly fighters and their families, evacuated to Idleb governorate as part of a number of local agreements. It currently remains unclear how many individuals remain inside the area of East Ghouta that have recently shifted control, although some estimates indicate 20,000-25,000.
Following the most recent local agreements for Harasta and the Ein Terma/Kafr Batna/Hezzeh areas, only the Duma area is currently beseiged, affecting the lifes of an estimated 70,000 – 78,000 individuals. Sustained hostilities on Duma continue to lead to high levels of civilian casualties, and a dire humanitarian situation, with civilians taking shelter in overcrowded and unsanitary basements with minimal access to basic commodities and services. This puts the vulnerable population at an increased risk of contracting communicable diseases at a time where medical supplies are hardly available. Surgical interventions for the sick and injured are reportedly carried out without anesthetics and sometimes with household knives.
Services earlier available, including protection services provided by cross-border actors, are rapidly dwindling as the situation on the ground rapidly changes. Shelling on Damascus city has also continued from East Ghouta, causing numerous casualties.
The UN remains highly concerned for the protection of civilians inside the besieged Duma enclave of East Ghouta amidst the ongoing military operations and sustained artilley shelling campaigns. The last time humanitarian assistance was able to reach individuals trapped inside Duma was on 15 March 2018, when a UN/SARC/ICRC convoy delivered food assistance for 26,100 people in Duma. While this food assistance was not sufficient to reach all people in Duma, with rations shared among numerous families, there were reports of some food rations being destroyed when shelling hit a warehouse in Duma on 18 March. Further food assistance and additional multi-sectoral assistance, such as health, WASH and nutritional supplies, need to be allowed into the enclave as a matter of utmost priority. The UN continues to advocate with the concerned parties to the conflict for immediate and unimpeded access to the besieged area of East Ghouta.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.