Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Emergency medical evacuations begin in Syria's Eastern Ghouta

Syria Medical evacuations from war-torn Eastern Ghouta have begun says Red Cross Abdulmonam Eassa AFP
Patty Aguilar | 27 December, 2017, 11:35

They are among more than 130 children needing urgent medical treatment there, as almost 12% of children in Eastern Ghouta are suffering from acute malnutrition, the United Nations has said.

On Tuesday evening, the International Committee of the Red Cross published pictures of ambulances brought in to carry out the evacuations.

UNICEF said its aid workers described seeing one of the worst health situations since the conflict began in 2011 during a rare global aid convoy to a neighborhood in the Eastern Ghouta district at the end of November.

The Syrian government has not publicly commented on the latest developments.

The other 25 patients would be moved "over the coming days", the statement said.

More than 340,000 people have been killed and millions have been driven from their homes since Syria's conflict erupted with anti-government protests in 2011.

The United Nations has been waiting for months to gain approval from the Syrian authorities, and last week Jan Egeland, the organization's humanitarian adviser for Syria, said the situation was getting worse, with 494 people on the priority list for medical evacuations; the medical society said more than 600 needed evacuation.

According to SAMS advocacy director Mohamad Katoub, the list includes 18 children and four women with conditions ranging from cancer, cardiac diseases, and kidney failure.

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At least 17 patients have died over the past few months in Eastern Ghouta because they were not able to access medical care, the group said.

Tonight @SYRedCrescent with @ICRC team started evacuation of critical medical cases from EasternGhouta to Damascus.

On Sunday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was working with Russia, Assad's ally, on the evacuations.

"That number is going down, not because we are evacuating people but because they are dying", he said.

Various rebel groups control Eastern Ghouta, and the suburb has been surrounded by Syrian regime forces for more than four years.

In theory, residents in the area should be in a safe zone free from airstrikes, shelling and fighting.

This has come amid a climate of peace talks and a victory declaration from Moscow in which Russian President Vladimir Putin said his military forces would begin to withdraw.

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