Situation in Ghouta Continues to Deteriorate As UN Calls for Ceasefire

The U.N. Security Council reiterated its call for the implementation of its February 24 resolution demanding a cease-fire throughout Syria.

Throughout #Syria, the Syrian people have dealt with violence from different sides, as they are caught in the crossfire between Assad’s forces, bolstered by #Iran and #Russia, and the rebel forces throughout the country. Adding to the violence are terrorist organizations, most notably ISIS, although there are claims that ISIS is being driven out of the country.

One area that is particularly hard hit right now is #Ghouta. This is a rebel-controlled area that is being bombed constantly, creating an even more dangerous situation for civilians. The Syrian government, with aid from Russia, has been shelling eastern Ghouta for months in retaliation for the rebel attacks on #Damascus. Residents of the city note that the population has been reduced to living in holes and basements to protect themselves from the shelling.

Blockage of the humanitarian supplies

Additionally, despite conversations with the Syrian government, humanitarian supplies are being denied to these civilians, who are living without basic necessities and dealing with a severe shortage of medical supplies.

“What happened was on Monday, after a very, very long wait, the U.N. and partners were finally able to access Douma with humanitarian assistance. And on the day that we were meant to go in, we actually were contacted by the government of Syria, and some of the health supplies – many of the health supplies that were supposed to bring in were not allowed. So three of the trucks were only able to go in half-full. This was a total of 46 trucks that we were meant to bring in. As soon as we went in, not long afterwards, the fighting resumed. As a result, about 10 trucks were not able to be offloaded, and four trucks were partially offloaded. What that meant was that half the supplies for those 27,500 people were not offloaded,” said Linda Tom, a U.N. spokesperson in Damascus during an NPR interview. “We’re absolutely going to be trying again. I mean, we can’t leave this like this. We’ve been trying to reach East Ghouta for weeks, for months. We continue to keep trying because the needs are so desperate inside.”

She also noted that members of her team saw a situation where people are dealing with a severe food shortage and a high rate of malnutrition among children. Some families had been living underground for weeks.

The U.N. Security Council resolution

On March 7, 2018, the U.N. Security Council reiterated its call for the implementation of its February 24 resolution demanding a cease-fire throughout Syria for at least 30 days to deliver humanitarian aid and evacuate the wounded, as well as those who are critically ill.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is scheduled to brief the council on implementation of the resolution on Monday. He has urged all parties to implement the cease-fire and expressed serious concerns at the attacks in eastern Ghouta, as well as the reported shelling of Damascus.

Claims by Assad that his forces are doing their best to protect civilians has been met with disbelief. Russian-supported attacks have killed at least 800 people and led most of the population (estimated at 400,000) to seek shelter in basements, despite demands for the ceasefire.

Humanitarian corridors in and out of Ghouta are monitored by Russia, but they have not been used frequently and are now being targeted as part of the shelling. Both sides, Assad’s forces and the rebels, claim that the other side is responsible for the attacks.

In this complex conflict, it is clear that Ghouta and its civilians are the latest casualties of a siege, starve, and surrender plan that has been used by Assad in other battles throughout Syria. According to the Independent, while the region is technically covered by a 2017 de-escalation deal, the Syrian government claims to be targeting al-Qaeda—linked factions, which are not covered by the agreement. In the eighth year of conflict, there seems to be no end to the suffering of the Syrian people.

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