Yesterday, the United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent entered Kafra Batna and Saqba in besieged eastern Ghouta with humanitarian assistance. The inter-agency convoy brought food, nutrition and health supplies to 40,000 people in need. Technical specialists were also part of the convoy to assess needs in the area in order inform future response. Delivery of more humanitarian aid is planned for the coming days.
In eastern Ghouta, daily shelling has continued to be reported in recent weeks. Humanitarian access to eastern Ghouta – one of the four de-escalated areas where nearly 95 per cent of Syria’s besieged population lives – has been severely curtailed for months. Since the start of the year, 110,000 people have received food assistance, out of an estimated population of nearly 400,000.
The last time the UN succeeded in reaching this area was on 23 September 2017, when some 25,000 people living in the besieged towns of East Haras¬ta, Misraba and Modira received much needed aid.
The UN continues to call for safe, unimpeded and sustained access to close to 3 million people in hard to reach and 10 besieged areas, including the facilitation of medical evacuations in line with international humanitarian and human rights law.
“The UN and our partners continue to implement in Syria one of the largest humanitarian operations in the world. We are reaching millions of people on a monthly basis,” said ERC Lowcock yesterday in his briefing to the Security Council. “It remains our view that cross-border assistance provided for in Security Council resolution 2165 has been a lifeline. This assistance has allowed the UN to reach millions of people in need in northern and southern parts of Syria. (…) I therefore regard a renewal of resolution 2165 as essential. Millions of people depend on the activities it mandates.”
Parts of eastern Ghouta in rural Damascus have been classified as besieged since November 2013, and since November 2016, the entire enclave is considered besieged. In total, some 393,300 people are estimated to live in East Ghouta, which account for 94 per cent of the entire besieged population within Syria.