Humanitarian organisations continue to alert the international community of the increasingly dire situation in Eastern Ghouta, located to the east of the capital Damascus, where about 400,000 people are suffering from hunger and cold. All humanitarian convoys to the area have been blocked by the Syrian regime and no residents are being permitted to leave. The UN recently declared that one in eight children were malnourished in Eastern Ghouta, compared to one in 50 in May 2017.
Eastern Ghouta is home to three rebel factions which regularly target the nearby capital. In mid-November, the Ahrar Al-Sham faction seized parts of a military base in the area, which triggered a strong response from the regime. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, over 200 civilians were killed in retaliation. In order to recapture Eastern Ghouta, the Syrian regime has engaged in what the UN envoy to Syria has called a “surrender or starve” strategy, which has proven effective for the Al-Assad regime over the past years.
Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.
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