Children’s agency joins first humanitarian aid convoy to deliver food and health supplies in months
DUBLIN, 06 March 2018 – UNICEF Ireland is deeply saddened to hear about the conditions children and their families in East Ghouta are enduring.
Those dire circumstances were outlined by UNICEF personnel in Syria who returned from a humanitarian aid mission to the cut-off populations of Douma, East Ghouta on Monday.
Five UNICEF trucks were part of a 46-truck inter-agency convoy that travelled into the area, close to the Syrian capital city of Damascus. The trucks, belonging to the UN and the Syrian Red Crescent, delivered food for 27,500 people, in addition to health and nutrition supplies.
UNICEF health, nutrition and logistics experts who travelled with the convoy reported distressing scenes:
- Many families have been living underground for the past four weeks, surviving without clean water, sanitation or food.
- Scores of families have been newly displaced to Douma, as they fled active conflict elsewhere in the region.
- Some basements are now home to almost 200 people – Douma residents and newly displaced families.
- Families have little access to clean water and request hand-operated pumps to draw water from shallow wells.
- Sanitation is an immense challenge with families having to use makeshift toilets in basements or even buckets, they say.
- One 8-year-old boy reported having only one meal of wheat cooked with water and sugar on Monday. The previous day, Sunday, he had a bowl of rice. The boy told UNICEF he did not know if he would eat Tuesday.
- Communities are arranging for basement community learning sessions for children. Using UNICEF’s self-learning curriculum, they set up blackboards in basements and organise classes, when they can.
The humanitarian teams involved in the convoy were forced to leave the area before their mission was completed, because of renewed shelling. UNICEF personnel were unable to complete their assessments of the situation on the ground for children affected by conflict.
Nearly two million children live in besieged and hard to reach areas of Syria.
Violence in Syria is ongoing in Idlib, Afrin, in Deir-ez-Zor, in Damascus, and in parts of Aleppo. During the first two months of the year, UNICEF has received reports of over 1,000 children killed or seriously injured throughout Syria.
UNICEF continues to support children in need across Syria; 5.3 million children are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance.
Notes to Editors
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