Eastern Ghouta Syria: The neighbourhoods below the bombs
Whole neighbourhoods in Syria's Eastern Ghouta region
outside Damascus have been flattened and thousands of families
displaced, amid a government assault to retake it from rebels.
Daily "humanitarian pauses" - ordered by the
government's ally, Russia - have failed to stop the bloodshed in the
enclave, where hospitals, schools and shops have been pounded by air and
The population is living in "hell on earth", UN
Secretary General Ant¢nio Guterres has said.
In one district, 93% of buildings have been damaged or
destroyed, according to the latest UN satellite imagery analysis.
Western districts have been devastated
Source: Damage assessment by UNITAR-UNOSAT and map
boundaries by the REACH Initiative. Satellite image Google/DigitalGlobe.
Damage assessments only cover the densely-populated western districts of
the Eastern Ghouta
The agricultural region, home to almost 400,000
people, is the last major rebel stronghold near the capital.
The enclave - the size of Manchester in the UK - has
been besieged since 2013, but the humanitarian situation has worsened
significantly since hostilities between government and rebel forces
escalated last November.
The most recent wave of bombings has been among the
fiercest of the Syrian war, now entering its eighth year. The UN says
more than 580 people are reported to have been killed since 18 February.
Essential civilian infrastructure and services have
been hit. Satellite imagery analysis by McKenzie Intelligence Services
suggests a water tower in the Harasta neighbourhood was among the sites
Damage to water tower, Harasta, Eastern Ghouta
Both sides have accused each other of continuing
attacks during the five-hour "pauses" that began on Tuesday.
So far, no civilians have used the "humanitarian
corridor" designated by Russia to leave the Eastern Ghouta. UN agencies
and their partners have meanwhile said it has been impossible to deliver
urgently needed humanitarian supplies under the circumstances.
A doctor working in the area described the situation
as "catastrophic", with civilians left with no food, no medicine and no
The UN says hospitals, clinics and ambulances have
also come under attack.
In the more densely-populated western parts of the
Eastern Ghouta, analysis carried out by the UN in December had already
identified approximately 3,853 destroyed buildings, 5,141 severely
damaged buildings and 3,547 moderately damaged buildings.
Jobar has suffered the worst damage in areas so far
assessed. Some 93% of the buildings had been damaged or destroyed by
It was an active frontline for many months and the
civilian population has fled. Only armed groups remain.
Neighbouring Ein Tarma, which became home to many of
those who fled Jobar, was the focus of a government offensive in June
A sharp increase in shelling and air strikes forced
Ein Tarma's residents and displaced families to flee to other areas of
the Eastern Ghouta.
A total of 71% of the area's buildings had been
damaged or destroyed by December. More than 75% of the pre-conflict
civilian population has fled.
Zamalka has the third highest rate of damage in the
Eastern Ghouta area assessed by the UN. Some 59% of buildings had been
damaged or destroyed by December.
There has been no water or electricity supply for at
least two years, and more than 75% of the pre-conflict civilian
population has fled.
The intensified bombardment this month saw the area
suffer further loss of life and damage levels are certain to have risen
beyond those of December.
Due to Hamouria's more central location within the
Eastern Ghouta, the amount of damage assessed in December was lower than
other areas. Some 11% of buildings had been damaged or destroyed.
However, the area has come under repeated attack
during the latest round of bombardment.
Video footage obtained by Reuters showed wreckage at
the Al-Shifa hospital, which staff said had been hit by air and
"The clinics department is out of service, the
clinical care unit is out, the surgery unit is out, the incubator unit
is out, the paediatric section is out, all of the departments of the
hospital are completely out of service," a man identified as a medical
Much of Hamouria's population has fled and and almost
half of the current residents are from elsewhere. Water and electricity
have been unavailable since June 2016.
Saqba, which has avoided the high levels of
destruction suffered by neighbouring areas, has also come under
sustained attack this month.
By December, 27% of its buildings had been either
damaged or destroyed. That figure is likely to have increased.
More than half the population is made up of people who
have fled other areas.
Water and electricity are unavailable.
Kafr Batna, where 21% of buildings had been damaged or
destroyed by December, has been attacked again by government warplanes
in the latest round of bombings.
A number of people have been killed.
Douma - the biggest town in the district - was not
included in the UN's damage assessments in December. However, it has
been hit badly in the latest round of air and artillery strikes.
Basema Abdullah, a widow huddled in a basement with
her four children, told Reuters: "We are in desperate need for your
Satellite imagery of Al-Biruni University Hospital,
near Douma, appears to show a roadblock on a nearby highway.
McKenzie Intelligence Services analysts say it
suggests the hospital is only accessible by areas still loyal to the
Roadblock at Al-Biruni University Hospital, near Douma
Satellite images also show a trench network has been
constructed in Harasta, south west of Douma, next to a military
Analysts say the trenches are likely occupied by rebel
fighters, given their location, and would allow them to move around the
area without being hit by shrapnel and out of the sight of observers who
could call in artillery or air strikes.
Aid workers have described how thousands of families
are now living in underground basements and shelters - many without
water, sanitation or ventilation systems, making children vulnerable to
the spread of disease.
The government has allowed one humanitarian convoy
into the Eastern Ghouta since late November, and there are severe
shortages of food and extremely inflated prices.
A bundle of bread cost close to 22 times the national
average, and 11.9% of children under five years old are acutely
malnourished - the highest rate recorded in Syria since the beginning of
Residents have described going days without eating,
consuming non-edible plants, or reducing the size of their meals due to
a lack of access to food.
The Syrian government has denied targeting civilians
and insisted it is trying to liberate the Eastern Ghouta from
"terrorists" - a term it has used to describe both jihadist militants
and the mainstream rebel groups that dominate the enclave.
Courtesy : BBC News
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