Human Appeal, a Greater Manchester-based humanitarian aid charity, have called the current siege in Easter Ghouta “worse than Aleppo” – the bloody siege which captured headlines during the final bombardment in late 2016. Nearly 400 people have been killed in Eastern Ghouta over the past 4 days and 800 injured due to heavy bombardment.
Human Appeal have highlighted the heavy civilian cost being paid and called on all fighting to cease and special protection for civilian and medical buildings.
Charles Lawley, Human Appeal’s UK Media & External Affairs Coordinator says:
“Civilians are dying as we speak. Men and women, young and old; all people who thought they were safe in their homes are dying there. There needs to be an immediate ceasefire in order for innocent people to get to safety. It is a massacre there. At the time of writing 346 have been confirmed dead and over 800 injured. It is just mass slaughter on the ground and the casualties are overwhelmingly civilian.
“We must stress that medical facilities receive special protection in conflict, as they should be under international law. Unfortunately, as we have seen in Aleppo and other sieges within this conflict, healthcare centres are being hit, damaged and destroyed. We call on all military actors to take the necessary measures to protect medical units and to ensure that military objectives are not near them.
“There has been talk throughout the conflict of ‘red lines’ when alleged crimes against humanity have been committed, however there has been no action on these ‘red lines.’ The international community must intervene to end the ongoing violations and activate all of the United Nations Security Council resolutions and international agreement on mass destructive weapons.
“The city has been under siege for the last four years – longer than even the Siege of Leningrad, the deadliest siege in human history – and it is difficult to get aid into the city. We are able to get hot food, bread and firewood to people, however there are big gaps in the needs of people in Eastern Ghouta, especially when it comes to accessing to safe drinking water and water for hygiene. The siege has severely affected water infrastructure. There is a state of hyperinflation within the besieged area, a price of bread costs around $0.50 outside of Eastern Ghouta, inside its $10. Fuel too is 5x or 10x the price outside of the conflict area.
“The siege is worse than the one in Aleppo which escalted in late 2016, with Aleppo, amongst the slaughter, there was a small but risky channel for people to leave the city and to try and flee to the relative safety in Idlib. However, this is not the case in Eastern Ghouta – they are completely surrounded and cut off from safety. The people have nowhere to go. People are being besieged to death.”
Images of Human Appeal’s work in Syria can be found here https://media.humanappeal.net/?c=851&k=974a650ca5
Human Appeal representatives are available for interviews, please contact [email protected] for more information or call Charles Lawley on 07535 415 060.
Human Appeal (www.humanappeal.org.uk) is one of the UK’s fastest growing charities. With a presence in 25 countries, spanning Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and here at home, we help in times of crisis and we deliver sustainable development programmes in the world’s poorest nations. Human Appeal received widespread media coverage this winter for their Wrap Up Campaign where they helped collect over 23,5000 coats and items of clothing for rough sleepers in Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and London and in May for their “Muslims For Manchester” scheme where they raised nearly £28,000 for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack.
Human Appeal has been working in Syria since 2011 through local partners, opening our field office in Gaziantep, Turkey in 2013. One of their largest emergency programmes during the period 2014-2017 was providing food aid in the form of cooked meals, food parcels which contain essential items, meat and flour distribution. Human Appeal’s large scale food security project supplied 37,300 tonnes of flour to Syrian bakeries over three years, allowing them to continue producing bread, which is a staple in the Syrian diet. This project has helped stabilise the price of bread on the market and sustained entire communities who struggle to access food.
Human Appeal has also provided Syrian farmers with agricultural tools and resources, allowing them to grow their own food and build their resilience to conflict-related shocks and stresses. Human Appeal’s emergency operations in Syria also include providing shelter and essential survival items to displaced families. They support public services by providing hospitals and schools with clean water, and continue to support the Al-Iman Hospital for women and children in association with UNOCHA and Americares. In 2016, 150,000 vulnerable women and children had access to healthcare at this facility, and many were reached in their communities through their mobile health clinic.
In 2016, Human Appeal’s work with displaced communities improved health and hygiene standards, improved access to education for 1,400 children in 30 IDP camps (funded by UNOCHA) and better quality formal and non-formal education for over 80,000 children in Northern Syria (funded by UNICEF). In 2017, Human Appeal is continuing its flour distribution project, delivering food parcels in partnership with WFP, providing cooked meals and distributing winter kits. We are also continuing our support for Al Iman Hospital and to children who have lost one or both parents in Syria and in refugee camps in Turkey.