Humanitarian aid has finally started to reach besieged areas of East Ghouta. 40 aid convoys have entered the town of Harasta and will subsequently be transferred to other nearby towns of Mudayrah and Misraba.
Parts of East Ghouta, an industrial and agricultural suburb of Damascus, have been besieged by the Syrian Regime since 2013. As a result of the siege, civilians have suffered heavily with shortages of food and water, as well as surging prices of everyday commodities. Bombardment by regime aircraft has also become part of the everyday.
The effects of the siege have been amplified during Ramadan. “We cannot find anything in the market except for some vegetables that are no good for cooking; meat and legumes are very expensive and we cannot afford them,” said Abu Mahmoud al-Shagouri, a resident of eastern Ghouta. “We have been living without work for a long time because of the war and siege. This is the worst Ramadan for us under these dire conditions”.
Rebel infighting has also gripped the area over the past few months, causing mass displacement and destruction. Intra-rebel clashes broke out in April when Jaish al-Islam, which controls East Ghouta’s de-facto capital of Douma city, attacked Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) headquarters in what the former called a campaign to eliminate “Jabhat al-Nusra,” the previous name of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, from the area.
As a result of the fighting, more than 400 fighters and civilians died in May, according to a local activist in East Ghouta, with thousands more displaced.
The arrival of aid now reaching besieged East Ghouta was agreed upon by the United Nations and the local council of Harasta. More than 40 cars carrying food, medical supplies and 2,300 meals arrived into the area to be dispersed among the area’s families.
Residents in East Ghouta, however, believe the aid is insufficient for the number of residents present in the area. According to one resident, the first convoy of cars brought only “100 meals” to Harasta with the town expected to contain over 2,100 families. Many families were displaced two months ago from Qaboun, an area west of East Ghouta that was formerly under rebel control but lost due to infighting.
As a result of the low levels of aid, which the resident calls “an injustice”, many families will subsequently be forced to split one meal between two families. With fighting picking up in neighbouring district of Jobar and airstrikes a regular occurrence, it remains to be seen if further aid will reach East Ghouta in the near future.