WHO slams 'deteriorating situation' in Syria's Eastern Ghouta
A statement released on Wednesday by the health organisation found that in recent days seven people had been killed and 42 injured in the Syrian city.
At least 400,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011 with anti-government protests, and the violence has displaced more than half the population, both internally and abroad, as refugees.
Local health authorities reported that in the space of four days alone, from November 14 to 17, 84 people were killed, including 17 children, and 659 people injured.
Over two hundred surgical operations were conducted during the same period in Eastern Ghouta’s overwhelmed and under-resourced hospitals.
WHO added that the lack of essential health services, coupled with the limited safe drinking-water and basic sanitation services had resulted in increased disease outbreaks such as diarrhoea, typhoid and hepatitis.
|Continuous and unimpeded humanitarian aid to Eastern Ghouta is urgently needed, and medical evacuations of critically ill patients are long overdue|
Plans to evacuate critically ill patients to other hospitals remain unapproved, and life-saving medicines, equipment and surgical supplies are prevented from entering the area.
Hospitals in Eastern Ghouta are ill-equipped to deal with the increasing humanitarian needs, and the escalating violence has left hospitals and healthcare centres damaged, "severely limiting medical care for people at a time when they need it most," WHO added.
"Continuous and unimpeded humanitarian aid to Eastern Ghouta is urgently needed, and medical evacuations of critically ill patients are long overdue.
"Life-saving health supplies are available, and WHO, along with partners, stands ready to respond to health needs once access is granted," said Elizabeth Hoff, WHO Representative in Syria.
The WHO statement comes as the United Nations revealed that more than 13 million Syrians are in need of aid.
The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.
The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.