Syrian Arab Republic: Response to the East Ghouta Crisis in Rural Damascus Situation Report No. 3 (3 April – 11 April 2018) [EN/AR]

This report covers the period from 3 April – 11 April 2018. Please note that this SitRep refers to the response to the East Ghouta crisis in rural Damascus. A separate report regarding the response to the evacuees in the northern governorates is being issued by the OCHA Turkey office.

Highlights

  • 151,000 individuals are estimated to have left East Ghouta either to IDP sites in Rural Damascus or to Aleppo and Idleb governorates
  • 50% of all IDPs, most of them women and children, have obtained permission to leave the IDP sites in rural Damascus
  • 32,000 IDPs have benefitted from different shelter interventions in IDP sites in rural Damascus
  • $95m needed to continue assisting those affected by the East Ghouta crisis in rural Damascus

  • After a brief period of relative calm, sustained attacks on and shelling from Duma resumed on 6 April, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries. On 8 April, a local agreement was reached for the Duma area, resulting in further evacuations from the area.

  • On 10 April, the UN Secretary-General expressed outrage at alleged reports on the use of chemical weapons in Duma, reiterating his strong condemnation of the use of such weapons against civilians. The Secretary-General called for a thorough investigation, using “impartial, independent and professional expertise.” • A total of 46,527 individuals continue to be accommodated inside the nine IDP sites in Rural Damascus hosting people displaced from eastern Ghouta, which remain severely overcrowded, with some facilities accommodating twice as many IDPs as their intended capacity permits. At the time of writing, it remained to be seen whether additional displacement from Duma will take place potentially further increasing overcrowding in the sites.

  • The UN and partners have had to re-direct resources to respond to the East Ghouta emergency, and they are currently facing a $95m gap in funding to continue providing life-saving assistance and protection services to those affected by the crisis, including people at IDP sites in Rural Damascus and to those who remained in East Ghouta. This figure does not include the funds needed to support those who were displaced to northern Syria.

Situational Overview

After a brief period of relative calm, sustained attacks on and shelling from Duma resumed on 6 April, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries, including some in Damascus city. Civilian infrastructure in Duma continued to be impacted by the hostilities, and the UN has received reports that on 7 April, airstrikes impacted areas close to the Hamadan private hospital and the SARC office in Duma. On 6 and 7 April, reports were received of attacks impacting several health facilities, including the Obstetrics Hospital. On both 7 and 8 April, the Duma Central Hospital reportedly sustained significant infrastructural damage, after being impacted by airstrikes. Said airstrikes were also reported to have killed an ambulance driver on 8 April.

On 8 April, there were numerous allegations that chemical weapons were used against civilian populations in Duma leading to scores of deaths and injuries. The UN Secretary-General expressed outrage at these reports, reiterating his strong condemnation of the use of such weapons against civilians, and called for a thorough investigation, using “impartial, independent and professional expertise.”

Following the period of sustained hostilities from 6 to 8 April, a local agreement for Duma was reached on 8 April. Under the agreement, scores of individuals, including women and children, were released from prisons in Duma, and between 9-11 April, an estimated 8,877 people, including fighters, were reportedly evacuated from Duma city to Azaz and Al-Bab town in Aleppo Governorate, with more displacement expected to happen in the coming days. While the terms of the agreement reached in Duma remain unclear, it appears that civilians currently have only limited access to any information related to their possible movement, including about safety guarantees. Humanitarian organisations continue to emphasize that the evacuation of civilians must be undertaken in compliance with relevant provisions of international humanitarian law and minimum standards, including in relation to access to assistance, protection for people who leave or remain, respect for property rights, and the right to return.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.