Over 300,000 civilians at risk in Damascus fighting: UN


Syrian children walk through ruins of destroyed buildings following an airstrike by the regime's forces near Damascus. File photo

The United Nations said fighting around Syria’s capital has cut off 300,000 people from humanitarian assistance and pauses in the conflict are needed to allow aid convoys to get to the area.

Fighting in and around Damascus has intensified in recent days after surprise attacks by rebel fighters in the northeastern parts of the city.

“They are totally dependent on our supplies. Starvation will be just around the corner unless we get there in the coming weeks,” Jan Egeland, UN humanitarian adviser on Syria, told Reuters news agency on Thursday.

Egeland said the besieged areas of Douma and Kafr Batna in rural Damascus have not received UN supplies since last year.

“The increase in the fighting has disastrous effects on the civilian population,” Egeland explained. “They haven’t had any supplies by the UN since October in Douma, and in the Kafr Batna area not since June of last year.”

Clashes continued between the Syrian rebel fighters and government forces near the Jobar district in Damascus for a fifth day.

Egeland said the UN is hoping to send an aid convoy on Friday to Wadi Barada, a valley outside of Damascus where fighting raged at the beginning of the year.

Food had reached the besieged town of Madaya last week, but sniping by fighters surrounding the town meant it could not be distributed, the UN official said.

A report, published last week by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), found the Syrian government “deliberately” restricted humanitarian access to besieged populations.


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