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UN slams ‘tragic’ conditions of Ghouta’s displaced

More than 50,000 civilians have been expelled in three days alone [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 22 March, 2018

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The regime's relentless bombing, shelling and use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta has provoked an exodus of more than 50,000 civilians, in three days alone.
Terrible living conditions has led to thousands of civilians forced fleeing Eastern Ghouta as the Syrian regime continues its bombardment, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Syria said on Wednesday.

"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.

The relentless Syrian regime assault backed by Russian air power that began last month has killed hundreds of people as airstrikes pounded residential areas where thousands had sheltered in basements across the densely populated enclave.

In one makeshift shelter, AFP journalists saw hundreds of people assembled on thin bedding under a tarpaulin sheet, with donated blankets piled beside them.

Dozens of people - including women and children - queued outside limited bathroom facilities.

"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 added.

Since the escalation of the military offensive against Eastern Ghouta on 18 February, the civilian death toll now stands at 1,401 - with over 5,000 injured - although many more bodies are trapped underneath mountains of rubble.

Fierce fighting as rebels try and repel regime offensives - along with relentless bombing and shelling campaigns and the use of chemical weapons - has provoked an exodus of more than 50,000 civilians in three days alone.

A rebel group in Syria's besieged Eastern Ghouta agreed on Wednesday to lay down its arms in a Russian-brokered deal to evacuate part of the last-remaining rebel bastion.

The so-called evacuation deals come after years of siege and bombardment that have been a major strategy by the Syrian army to force rebels to surrender and help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad recover all of Aleppo, Homs and other areas.

Eastern Ghouta is home to more than 400,000 people living under crippling regime siege, with little access to food or medical resources. World leaders and government officials have sharply criticised the Assad regime for its indiscriminate bombing and called for an immediate halt.

Despite rebel efforts, regime forces have retaken some 80 percent of the besieged enclave since escalating its brutal air and ground offensive last month, carving it up into three ever-smaller pockets held by different rebel groups.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and injured as Bashar al-Assad seems to stop at nothing to regain control of Eastern Ghouta, the last opposition-held enclave near the Syrian capital.

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