Syrian Arab Republic: Response to the East Ghouta Crisis in Rural Damascus Situation Report No. 5 (19 April – 1 May 2018)

Situation Report
Originally published


This report is produced by OCHA Syria in collaboration with sectors and humanitarian partners. It covers the period from 19 April to 1 May 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.


  • Some 44,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from East Ghouta remain in IDP sites, most of which are considerably overcrowded. There is an urgent need to decongest the sites and allow for the freedom of movement for the remaining IDPs. There is also a need to scale up assistance to IDPs that have left the sites and are residing in host communities, in additon to a need for information on their movement and location.

  • Humanitarian assistance to IDPs sites has been scaled up; however, a number of protection concerns remain related to freedom of movement, family separation, presence of unaccompanied and separated children, lack of civil documentation and concerns for women and girls, including risks of forms of gender-based violence.

  • An estimated 120,000 people remain in East Ghouta, with only limited assistance provided through SARC and local partners. Humanitarian needs inside East Ghouta remain high, with restricted access for UN and partners.

  • Partners have identified an overall requirement of $95 million to continue providing life-saving assistance and protection services to people at IDP sites in Rural Damascus and to those who remained in East Ghouta.

158,000 individuals left East Ghouta either to IDP sites in Rural Damascus or to Aleppo and Idleb governorates

120,000 people estimated to remain in East Ghouta, with only limited assistance provided and no UN access

77,755 Ready-to-eat food rations/canned food parcel provided to IDPs

$95m is the funding requirement identified by the UN and its partners to assist those affected by the East Ghouta crisis

Situational Overview

Over the reporting period, the situation in IDP sites remains dire, with some 44,000 from Eastern Ghouta still remaining in sites.

While aid and services to the sites are improving, most are still overcrowded and the situation of the displaced population, including their freedom of movement, continues to be of concern. The number of people leaving the IDP sites has slowed down during the last weeks and the UN continues to advocate for their freedom of movement and for the security screening and sponsorship process to be expedited.
Even after the completion of all ongoing/planned works, including the establishment of Karnak Transportation Company and the Herjalleh site, IDP sites will remain overcrowded unless considerable numbers of IDPs are allowed to move out. A small number of IDPs are also reportedly returning to the sites, either due to financial constraints to rent accommodation or to be reunited with their male family members inside the IDP sites that have not yet received security clearances. In order to address the overcrowding, it is important for additional sites to be opened and made functional and for existing sites to be decongested.

It is also essential to speed up the procedures for IDPs to exit and to allow for their voluntary return to previous areas of residence in East Ghouta. The need for adequate shelter is especially urgent given several days of heavy rains, causing major flooding in several areas in Rural Damascus. Lack of civil documentation, particularly IDs and birth and marriage certificates, are also issues for IDPs.

Inside East Ghouta, the UN still has not been granted access to conduct multi-sector assessments that can inform the provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance. An estimated 120,000 people remain in East Ghouta, including 70,000 people in Duma have only received limited assistance provided through SARC and local partners.

East Ghouta is no longer considered besieged, but it remains classified by the UN as hard-to-reach. Given the access challenges, accurate information on displacement, returns and the general conditions and needs of the populaton is difficult to obtain. For instance, it is not known how many people have returned from IDP sites to East Ghouta and what are the modalities of the return. Commercial access and freedom of movement in East Ghouta reportedly continues to be restricted with reports of civilians facing challenges in accessing basic assistance, services and protection. The UN was last permitted to directly reach East Ghouta on 15 March, with food assistance for 26,100 people in Duma. Duma has been included in the May-June inter-agency convoy plan request.

In total, an estmated 158,000 people left East Ghouta between 9 March and 15 April following weeks of fighting. Of these, 92,000 reportedly went to IDP sites in Rural Damascus. Some 44,000 of these people remain at the sites, which are at nearly double their capacity. The 48,000 IDPs that have reportedly left the sites towards areas such as Jaramana, Al Tal, Qatana and As Sweida also require assistance. However, a tracking mechanism is needed to better target assistance to these IDPs.

Some 66,000 people were reportedly transported to northwest Syria since mid-March from East Ghouta. In Idleb, a lack of accommodation, continued fighting and insecurity are ongoing challenges for those that have been displaced. The last evacuations saw people accommodated in the Euphrates Shield area of northern Aleppo. Humanitarian access to these areas remains limited and subject to restrictions imposed by the local authorities.

Partners have identified an overall requirement of $95 million to continue providing life-saving assistance and protection services to people at IDP sites in Rural Damascus and to those who remained in East Ghouta. The Syria Humanitarian Fund allocated US $8.3 million to respond to the current crisis, for the provision of food and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, health, shelter and core relief items in addition to providing protection services for people from East Ghouta. Response capacity in several sectors has been increased with the arrival of a number of surge personnel, which has supported ongoing efforts to scale up the response. Resources from other programmes are being used to continue responding to the acute needs of affected people of East Ghouta, with more funding urgently required to maintain the overall response across Syria, including other crises.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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