Syrian regime traps 400,000 civilians in east Ghouta

At least 400,000 civilians have been blockaded and trapped by the Syrian regime on eastern Ghouta region near the capital, Damascus, leaving them struggling with malnutrition.

At least two babies have died due to malnutrition and hundreds remain in a dire situation as all healthcare facilities were destroyed or are almost non-operational, according to local medics.

A main pro-democracy opposition stronghold on the outskirts of Damascus, eastern Ghouta has been under siege by regime forces since December 2012.

The regime tightened its siege in recent months, preventing residents from bringing in their daily needs such as food and medicine, which has resulted in an increase in infant deaths.

“Infant death rates have dramatically increased due to lack of milk and enough food,” the Eastern Ghouta media centre said in a statement.

The latest victim was Sehar Difda, a one-month-old baby, died of malnutrition on Sunday.

A local medic, Dr Yahya Abu Yahya, has said that the baby lacked nutrition because his mother, too, suffered from malnutrition due to the crippling siege. The baby was buried on Sunday.

Another infant, Ubeyde, also died of malnutrition early Sunday, according to Eastern Ghouta media centre.

Ismail Hakeem, a doctor at Al-Hakim Emergency Hospital, said doctors tried to produce medicine from wheat, rice, and sugar.

“Unfortunately, the medications were costly and not enough – meeting only 10 percent of our needs,” he said.

He lamented that the lack food had caused the death toll of infants to rise in Eastern Ghouta. “One in four children suffers from malnutrition,” he said.

Syria has been plunged into a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assadregime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

The Syrian regime is openly backed by Iran and Russia. Thousands of Iranian military personnel backed by Russian air force are fighting the opposition to save the regime in Syria.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN officials.



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