“The painful images of dead bodies of children collected from the streets in Ghouta are sufficient to gauge the severity of the situation.” Those are the words of Ahmed Mahmood, an aid worker who has been working on the ground distributing aid with Islamic Relief in Syria. He filed the following report.
For the past seven years, the people of Syria have been suffering the devastating consequences of war with no end in sight. Over 13 million people are in need of humanitarian aid in the country, including more than five million children. Three million people are living in besieged areas without access to humanitarian aid, and the total number of displaced Syrians has risen to 11.5 million.
The scale, severity, and complexity of needs across Syria remain overwhelming. Since February 18th, Eastern Ghouta witnessed an increase in conflict. By March 8th, at least 800 people had been killed since the start of the offensive. The deceased included at least 175 children and 100 women. The number of injured has surpassed 5,000 with varying degrees of trauma cases being reported.
Despite a truce to allow humanitarian supplies to be delivered to the area, all we have seen is more fighting, more death and more disturbing reports of hunger and hospitals being bombed. The first UN aid convoy reached Eastern Ghouta on March 5th. 46 trucks carried food and health supplies. The convoy was forced to cut short its mission and left after nearly nine hours amid shelling and the UN Refugee Agency reported that 10 out of the 46 trucks could not be emptied. 94 people died that day while 300 others were injured.
The deadly assault has so far claimed the lives of many children. More than 30 people suffered critical suffocation after a midnight attack with an explosive barrel containing chlorine gas. No civilian or medical evacuations could take place due to a number of security and protection issues.
Islamic Relief responds
There are a shocking 400,000 people trapped in the enclave in urgent need of food, water, medicines. Islamic Relief is responding to the crisis by working with a local partner on the ground in Eastern Ghouta. We are providing cooked meals and baked bread to more than 2,500 families. Islamic Relief is also in the process to provide a further 12,000 individuals with food.
Repeated and continuous humanitarian access is essential and more must be granted in the coming period. According to humanitarian actors, approximately £5 million is needed to scale up the emergency response to the Syria crisis prioritising Eastern Ghouta. I am appealing to you, to please answer the call and come to the aid of the Syrian people. Please help us save lives.
By Ahmed Mahmood