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‘Tragic’ Conditions for Displaced from Syria’s Eastern Ghouta

‘Tragic’ Conditions for Displaced from Syria’s Eastern Ghouta

Thursday, 22 March, 2018 - 09:15
Smoke rises from buildings following air strikes on Zamalka, one of the few remaining rebel-held pockets in Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus on March 21, 2018. AMER ALMOHIBANY / AFP

The UN humanitarian coordinator in Syria on Wednesday condemned the "tragic" living conditions of thousands of civilians who have fled a regime assault on the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus.

"If I was a citizen, I would not accept to stay in Adra for five minutes, with this tragic situation," Ali al-Zaatari told AFP, referring to a regime-held area to which thousands of civilians have fled.

"People may have escaped fighting, fear and insecurity but they find themselves in a place without anywhere to wash themselves. This should not be," Zaatari said.

Tens of thousands of civilians have streamed out of Eastern Ghouta in less than a week.

Since March 15, more than 70,000 people have fled the enclave after weeks of bombardment, says the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The UN says shelters have received over 50,000 in the past week. 

"This crisis must be managed in a different way and the solution is to speed up people's return home," Zaatari said.

"The solution is to empty these shelters of inhabitants, as soon as possible, and to keep residents in Eastern Ghouta," Zaatari said, if security conditions allow.

"Keeping people in their homes and aid reaching them there is easier than bringing them to these public places," he said.

Before the regime assault, some 400,000 civilians in Eastern Ghouta had lived under regime siege since 2013, facing severe food and medicine shortages.

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