Last week’s seventh anniversary of the Syrian conflict was marked by hundreds of civilian deaths in the besieged area of Eastern Ghouta. The death toll is now well over 1,500.
Commenting on the mass displacement from Eastern Ghouta and Afrin, Máiréad Collins, Advocacy Officer for Syria, Iraq and Lebanon at Christian Aid, said:
“In the last week, the Government of Syria and Russian troops took over areas of Eastern Ghouta. Tens of thousands are displaced after surviving besiegement and ongoing aerial bombardment. In the same twenty-four hours 38 were killed in Eastern Ghouta, including killing 15 children and 2 women sheltering in an underground school, and 35 people were killed by a rebel launched rocket in Damascus as they shopped for mothers’ day gifts.
“While the final destination of all of those displaced is not yet known, many have gone to the Hirjellah displacement centres many miles from Eastern Ghouta. There are concerns over the protection of those who had worked for NGOs in Eastern Ghouta as IDs have been taken of displaced people at the camp.
“Meanwhile in northern Syria, Turkey’s military occupation of this heretofore relatively peaceful Kurdish enclave of Afrin, home to displaced Syrian communities of all ethnicities and religions, has led to another enormous mass displacement. More than 100,000 are believed to be displaced from Afrin.
“The crisis in Syria cannot be recognised on anniversaries only. The deaths and displacement in recent days are not uncommon and the situation is only worsening. It must remain on the radar of the entire world.”
Ms Collins added:
“Christian Aid is calling for complete access for humanitarian aid, not piecemeal convoys once in a while. There can be no improvement in the lives of Syrians within Syria without a total cessation of violence by all parties.
“For those living as refugees, host countries must be supported to make policy changes that allow Syrian refugees to remain safely, to work and to get education for their children.”