Two infants have died from severe malnutrition in the Eastern Ghouta province of Syria, as the blockade of the region by President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces pushes citizens to the brink of starvation, according to AFP.
On Saturday, the parents of one month-old Sahar Dofdaa admitted their daughter to hospital in the town of Hamouria. Suffering from acute undernourishment, she weighed less than two kilogrammes with her bones clearly visible beneath her skin. Her mother was too undernourished to breastfeed her and her father was unable to afford food for his daughter. She died yesterday morning.
Sarah was the second infant to die over the weekend; on Saturday an unnamed boy in Ghouta also died from starvation according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Doctors at hospitals in Eastern Ghouta report of attending to dozens of malnourished patients a day, as prices of basic foodstuffs have soared and the little humanitarian aid that is admitted, insufficient for the majority of people’s needs.
Dr Yahya Abu Yahya, the regional head of medical services for Turkish NGO Social Development International, which has several medical centres in Ghouta, said that the group had examined some 9,700 children in recent months; 40 per cent of them were suffering from some level of malnutrition.
He added that the aid that is being admitted covers just five to ten per cent of the needs of malnourished children.
Eastern Ghouta is one of four de-escalation zones established in May by Russia, Iran and Turkey in order to stem the bloodshed of Syria’s six-year civil war.
However, the area remains under the tight blockade imposed by Assad’s forces in 2013, leaving the 400,000 civilians with little access to basic necessities.
The regime has intensified the blockade in recent months, closing tunnels that were used to smuggle goods and preventing intermediary merchants from bringing in supplies.
The besieged province is also subject to airstrikes from the Syrian regime, despite such attacks being expressly forbidden as per the terms of the agreement in May. Anadolu Agency reported last week that at least one child was killed and 14 people injured when Syrian military planes attacked the Kafr Batna town on Friday.
Since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011, more than half a million people are believed to have been killed; the vast majority by President Bashar Al-Assad’s government. The regime has also used chemical weapons against civilians and prevented aid from reaching those affected on the ground. UN officials estimate that some 10 million people have been displaced as a result of the fighting.