The Whole of Syria Protection Sector calls for immediate and urgent action to protect hundreds of thousands of civilians, half of whom are believed to be children, living under siege and facing enormous security threats and life-threatening hardships in East Ghouta. Despite the unanimous adoption of Resolution No. 2401 by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on 24 February 2018, calling for a 30-day cessation of hostilities, the situation for the civilian population in East Ghouta is worsening by the day.
Armed hostilities, involving airstrikes as well as rocket and mortar exchanges continued to hit the urban areas of Eastern Ghouta, Damascus city and Rural Damascus suburbs causing numerous deaths and injuries among the civilians, in addition to serious damage to civilian infrastructure. It is estimated that more than 1,100 civilians have been killed and 4,000 injured since the escalation in February, including two staff working for cross-border organizations which are members of the protection sector. Similarly, retaliatory rocket and mortar attacks on neighborhoods of Damascus and Rural Damascus have killed 70 civilians and injured more than 400 during the same period.
The situation in East Ghouta was already a severe protection crisis after months of besiegement, restricted humanitarian access and depletion of basic services. On February 26, the UN Secretary General described eastern Ghouta as a “hell on Earth.” After months of denial of humanitarian access, only two humanitarian convoys have been able to enter the area, on 14th February and 5th March, bringing aid for almost 35,000 people. However, some critical medical items were not allowed on those convoys and not all items could be offloaded on March 5th due to the security situation. Humanitarian staff present on the convoy directly witnessed the far-reaching effects of the current situation on the civilian population.
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