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Living conditions for East Aleppo's residents getting worse Open in fullscreen

Robert Cusack

Living conditions for East Aleppo's residents getting worse

The study shows that a large number of residents want to stay in Aleppo [AFP]

Date of publication: 13 November, 2016

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A new UNHCR report highlights a city where child labour and begging are on the increase as supplies run out and fighting intensifies.

A new UN report on life in East Aleppo has revealed deteriorating living conditions in the besieged Syrian city, causing widespread social and psychological problems.

According to UNHCR's "East Aleppo Protection Monitoring" report, there has been an increase in the need for psychotherapy, possibly linked to a rise in reports of violence.

"55% of 325 respondents expressed the need for psychosocial support, compared to 20% in late August," the report says.

Contrary to other reports from the city, there were a large number of citizens who reported that they didn't want to leave the city however, despite the ongoing siege.

"If there were safe and secure routes for civilians to leave East Aleppo city, 44% of respondents said that people would not leave, while 40% said that they would," the report says.

Of those that did want to leave, 41 percent said that they would go to rebel-held territory, 31 percent said that they would go to Idlib, and another 31 percent said that they would go to the countryside surrounding Aleppo.

The findings from 398 interviews of Aleppo residents shows that there are many problems and threats beyond aerial bombings and sniper-fire that affect the local citizens.

Researchers found that child labour in the city is a growing issue, with growing reports of children working during school time and child recruitment.

The majority of interviewees also reported witnessing children begging in their local neighbourhood in the last three weeks.

A recent report by The New Arab shed light on school conditions in Aleppo, where most schools continue underground and class sizes have shrunk in order to reduce the risk of being targetted.

Incidences of domestic violence, sexual violence and child marriage were also reportedly increasing with a number of reports of sexual favours made in exchange for aid affecting women and boys.

"Request of sexual favours in exchange for aid was reported by 8%, with men (4%) and boys (4%) most affected, followed by women (2%) and girls (2)," the report says.

There has been an active siege on Aleppo since fighting broke out in 2012, however conditions have severely deteriorated over the summer as Russian and regime air-strikes have hit the local population hard.

Food and medicine levels are running out in the city and regime forces mounted a fresh offensive this week to defeat various rebel positions in the city.

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