UN continues to plead for end to violence in eastern Ghouta

A man and his son seek refuge from the bombardment in eastern Ghouta. A man and his son seek refuge from the bombardment in eastern Ghouta. The Daily Telegraph

28 February 2018
Calls for unhindered humanitarian access come after a record two-day death toll in the rebel enclave.

UN officials are demanding an end to the bombardment of eastern Ghouta, outside Damascus, by Syrian government forces. War monitors have reported at least 250 civilian deaths there between 19 and 20 February. According to local counts, more than 700 people were killed in the past three months in Ghouta.

Eastern Ghouta has been under siege by Syrian government forces since 2013, and is now the last remaining rebel stronghold in Syria. Damascus claims that its sole target in Ghouta, which has been declared a “de-escalation area,” is a rebel group formerly affiliated with Al-Qaeda that has a small presence there. But the two days of “hysterical violence,” which may precede a ground offensive, have produced the highest two-day civilian death toll in Ghouta since a 2013 chemical attack which killed hundreds.

Access to humanitarian aid is virtually nonexistent. Only one humanitarian convoy has been allowed into Ghouta since late November 2017. Bread costs almost 22 times the national average, and 12% of children under five years old are said to be acutely malnourished, according to the BBC. A doctor working there called the situation “catastrophic,” saying “We don’t have anything.”

The international community continues to call for an end to the situation in Ghouta, which a senior UN aid official has warned is spiraling out of control. Amnesty International has declared the attacks “war crimes on an epic scale.” UNICEF issued a blank statement to express its outrage at the situation, saying it had run out of words. Pleas for an end to violence seem to be falling on deaf ears, as Syrian forces and their Russian and Iranian allies seek a total military victory rather than a negotiated end to the war.


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