Residents of Syria’s Eastern Ghouta district, which remains under siege by the Assad regime and its allies, continue to flee to opposition-held parts of northern Syria in hopes of finding safety.
Since the evacuation process began, more than 56,000 people have left the besieged Damascus suburb.
Evacuees were initially sent to camps in Idlib, in Aleppo’s western countryside, and in the Al-Bab district, which is located within the area of operations of Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield.
22nd convoy from Syria’s Douma arrives in Al-Bab
A 22nd convoy carrying civilians and opposition fighters from the city of Douma in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta arrived in Aleppo’s Al-Bab district on Sunday, according to Anadolu Agency correspondents in the area.The convoy of eight buses carried 145 people, including 55 children and 42 women, who will be brought to the Azaz district from Al-Bab where they will be provided with temporary accommodation in camps.With the latest convoy, the number of people to have left Eastern Ghouta since the evacuation process began on March 22 has surpassed 60,000.Evacuations from Douma are set to continue, according to Anadolu Agency correspondents based in the area.Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield, launched in late 2016, liberated Al-Bab from the Daesh terrorist group.Turkey calls Syria airstrikes ‘late response’ to regimeHuge underground base of terrorists found in AfrinIsrael backs joint airstrikes on Syria regimeThe operation, which concluded in March of last year, largely succeeded in purging the Turkey-Syria border area of the terrorist presence.Evacuations are being conducted as part of a Russian-brokered agreement between Syria’s Assad regime and armed opposition groups.On Feb. 24, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401, which called for a cease-fire in Syria — especially in Eastern Ghouta — to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.Despite the resolution, however, the regime and its allies in early March launched a major ground offensive — backed by Russia — aimed at recapturing opposition-held parts of the district.Since Feb. 19, more than 1,400 people have been killed in attacks by the regime and its allies in Eastern Ghouta, according to local civil-defense sources.Home to 400,000 residents, Eastern Ghouta has remained under a crippling regime siege for the last five years, which has prevented the delivery of badly needed humanitarian supplies.Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in early 2011 when the regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.According to UN officials, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict and millions displaced.
Due to the recent influx of people, however, these camps are now full to capacity.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency at Idlib’s Abrar camp, Abu Mohamed said the Assad regime had allowed Eastern Ghouta residents to leave the district on condition they leave all their personal belongings behind.
“We have no pillows or blankets; we don’t have anything,” he lamented, adding that aid NGOs had yet to reach many of the temporary camps.
Another Eastern Ghouta resident, Abu Ahmed, said he and his friends — despite the difficult humanitarian situation — felt much more secure in Idlib.
“Prices here aren’t bad, but we don’t have any money. There was no life in Eastern Ghouta; we only had barley bread to eat,” he said.
Abu Rashid, yet another district resident, said he and his family were having difficulties adapting to their new surroundings.
“We don’t ask for much, just a livable environment. We need electricity,” he told Anadolu Agency.
128,000 civilians still remain trapped in Eastern Ghouta: UN
Nearly 128,000 civilians remain trapped in Eastern Ghouta, a Damascus suburb besieged by the Bashar al-Assad regime, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Friday.”According to the reports we obtained, the Syrian regime has taken Eastern Ghouta under full control,” Jens Laerke, spokesman for OCHA told Anadolu Agency, adding that the regime was not allowing access to the area.”We estimate that some 70,000 or 78,000 civilians remained in Douma by the last night,” Laerke said, indicating that there are still 50,000 civilians in different parts of Eastern Ghouta.Laerke noted that a total of 120,000-128,000 civilians who were unable to escape Eastern Ghouta were being held back by the regime.Tarik Jaserevic, spokesman for the World Health Organisation (WHO), said there were indications that a total of 500 people were exposed to high levels of toxic chemicals in Douma, Eastern Ghouta on April 8 that killed dozens of people.Calling on the Syrian regime to give access to Douma, Jaserevic said: “Although we have reached some small regions in Eastern Ghouta, we still cannot provide access to Douma. WHO reiterates call to have full, unhindered and unconditional access to Douma.””If chemical weapons were used, WHO needs to get access into the region not only to eliminate the negative effects of it but also to provide extensive healthcare,” Jaserevic said.UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac also confirmed that they had no access to regime-besieged Douma and stressed that especially children in the area needed urgent help.”The terrifying deaths in Douma in Syria reveal that the basic principle of protection of children is completely ignored as it has been repeated countless times over the past seven years,” he said.Last Saturday, Assad regime forces struck targets in Douma district using a poisonous gas, killing at least 78 people and injuring hundreds more, according to the White Helmets civil defense.On Feb. 24, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401 which called for a month-long cease-fire in Syria – especially in Eastern Ghouta — to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.Despite the resolution, the regime and its allies early this month launched a major ground offensive backed by Russian air power aimed at capturing opposition-held parts of Eastern Ghouta.Home to some 400,000 people, the suburb has remained the target of a crippling regime siege for the last five years.
Mohamed Tikko, who oversees one of the temporary camps in Idlib, said Eastern Ghouta residents were being given priority in terms of accommodation, with many being put up in local mosques, homes and schools.
“Resources are extremely limited,” he said. “Some NGOs have offered to pay the rents of refugee families for two months.”
“But these people have left all their belongings behind — their financial status is terrible,” he added. “What will they do after two months?”