Children among dead and injured as siege tightens in Damascus area

Source: Save the Children
Country: occupied Palestinian territory, Syrian Arab Republic

Khan Eshieh, the Palestinian refugee camp south of Damascus under complete siege, is home to around 3,000 children who are trapped and running out of food and medicine.

Continuing violence and blockades of besieged areas are adding to the suffering of the civilian population in Syria, Save the Children has warned.

Intensified bombing and shelling around the Khan Eshieh area has killed at least 11 people in the past 24 hours, including a mother and young child, according to a local agency there. The Jafra foundation reported that the deaths occurred after an airstrike hit their car. A further eight people, including children, have also been injured.

Khan Eshieh is the latest location to come under complete siege when the last road in and out of the area was blocked last week. The Palestinian refugee camp south of Damascus is home to around 3,000 children who are trapped and running out of food and medicine. The only existing medical facility in the camp has now almost completely run out of vital supplies – an eight year old girl was injured by shelling yesterday and had to have her hand amputated because of a lack of medical supplies and operating facilities.

Just eleven kilometres from the capital, in the besieged town of Darayya, there are fears of a new offensive against the town in the coming days. Residents told Save the Children that bombs hit civilians as they queued for an aid convoy that was barred from entering the town last Thursday. The area has been isolated without any official aid since October 2012.

Sonia Khush, head of Save the Children’s Syria programme, said: “Darayya is an example of how desperate life is for people under continued siege. People there tell us of children so hungry they can’t stand up for more than a few minutes. It is unthinkable that families are lured into the open because they are so desperate to receive aid, and then bombed. It is devastating to watch the grip tighten around another area, where we know children and their families are trapped inside.”

Shireen*, a teacher from Darayya told Save the Children about the failed distribution: “We had to wait a really long time, from 12pm to 6pm. Once I realised nothing was happening I turned back home. I had just arrived home when the first airstrike hit. The same place where we were waiting for the aid. I heard that a father and son were killed and five civilians were injured, including one of the women in the queue. It’s unbelievable, I was standing with her in the queue. I left and went home and she stayed with her children.”

Notes to editors

The urgent deterioration in Khan Eshieh is also being seen in other besieged and hard to reach areas inside Syria, which are still being denied humanitarian aid. In the town of Al Wa’er, in northern Homs, a seven month old girl died of malnutrition this week after aid convoys were once again denied entry.
Save the Children works with Syrian partners in besieged and other hard to reach areas in Syria to provide food parcels, support schools, repair water systems and provide psychological support for children affected by bombing and siege.

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