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Syrian regime blocks aid to besieged areas

February 10, 2014 at 11:17 am

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has today reported that the Syrian government is blocking deliveries of humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of civilians in the besieged areas of the country. Through phone interviews with activists and residents from south Damascus, Moadamiya, and Eastern Ghouta, HRW confirmed that for months, the Syrian government has laid siege to their areas, cutting electricity and communications and preventing food, medicine and aid workers from reaching civilians in need.

A member of the local council in Eastern Ghouta told Human Rights Watch: “Government forces sometimes allowed some people to leave and bring back food and other supplies through a checkpoint in Yarmouk as long as they did not use their cars. Several months ago, however, the soldiers sealed off the checkpoint completely, preventing people from bringing anything in. Since then we have had no bread at all.”

International humanitarian organizations told Human Rights Watch that the Syrian government has denied them access to the besieged areas despite repeated requests. HRW was told by local activists and residents of Damascus countryside and Homs how people are suffering from the ever worsening food shortage. People are dying from lack of basic medical care because of the siege.

“People in Syria are desperate for food, shelter and health care,” said Philippe Bolopion, United Nations director at Human Rights Watch. “Access to besieged communities is a litmus test for real change in the relief effort, and the Security Council should make clear that Syria is failing that test.”