On 23 September, a 42-truck inter-agency convoy delivered food, health, nutrition, education items and children's clothes for 25,000 people in the besieged towns of East Harasta, Misraba and Modira in eastern Ghouta, Rural Damascus. It has been over three months since aid agencies were able to access Eastern Ghouta.
Staff from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN were able to conduct needs assessments in the area, despite the time being cut short due to delays by the local authorities. Bureaucratic delays also meant that the offloading of supplies lasted well into the night. In the besieged towns, basic food supplies have waned. In this photo, humanitarian workers offload aid in Harasta from a SARC truck to another for the neighbouring town of Misraba.
Schooling for children has also been affected. With the start of the school year this month, more than 85,000 children benefitted from essential learning materials, remedial education and school rehabilitation across the country in August. In September, UNICEF provided education support for 10,000 children in Deir-ez-Zor, 3,000 children in besieged East Harasta, Misraba and Modira in Rural Damascus; and, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, delivered textbooks to Idleb.
The damage and destruction wrought by the on-going conflict is evident in the desolate streets of East Harasta, and attacks against civilians remain rampant. On 24 September, the neighbouring town of Misraba was reportedly shelled, injuring 10 children.
Across Syria, 3.5 million people are besieged or living in hard-to-reach areas. The UN and partners persist in advocating for unconditional, unimpeded, safe and sustained access to all people in need, as the conflict and crisis in Syria continue. In July, UN aid agencies and partners in Syria reached 1.2 million people in hard-to-reach areas, including 300,000 in militarily encircled locations. On 17 June 2017, two Syrian Arab Red Crescent drivers were shot and injured in an attack on another joint UN/SARC/ICRC convoy of 36 trucks, which had attempted to deliver humanitarian assistance to people in need in East Harasta.
“We can and we must do better for the Syrian people,” said Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr. Mark Lowcock, at a recent high-level Meeting on Syria in margins of the General Assembly. “Ultimately of course, the only sustainable way to address the humanitarian crisis is to end the conflict through a credible political agreement.”
Photos: OCHA/Ghalia Seifo