UN refugee agency warns of deepening humanitarian crisis in Syria's Eastern Ghouta region

Source: Xinhua| 2018-03-21 05:28:42|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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GENEVA, March 20 (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency UNHCR on Tuesday said it is alarmed by a further deepening of the humanitarian crisis in Syria as fierce fighting in Eastern Ghouta, rural Damascus and Afrin in the country's northwest causes massive new displacement.

In Eastern Ghouta alone, UNHCR said, more than 45,000 Syrians have fled their homes in recent days.

"We are today reiterating our call for the protection and safety of and full, unhindered and continuous humanitarian access to both the newly displaced and the hundreds of thousands civilians, still trapped by fierce fighting and in dire need of aid," Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for UNHCR, told a press briefing here on Tuesday.

According to UNHCR, the newly displaced are currently accommodated in places where conditions are miserable, and the needs are overwhelming and growing by the hour, together with serious health risks.

"All existing shelters are extremely congested and overcrowded and lack basic sanitation. People queue in lines for hours to use restrooms, and most have no lighting," Mahecic said.

UNHCR said it has so far delivered 180,000 core relief items to meet the urgent needs. At several collective shelters, people living in the open in schoolyards are desperate and using UNHCR's blankets as partitions to create some privacy, and to protect themselves and their families from the sun in daytime, and from the cold at night.

"Full and unhindered humanitarian access to civilians inside and outside Eastern Ghouta, in collective shelters and elsewhere is crucial to ensure the urgent needs of civilians are met," Mahecic stressed.

According to UNHCR, another emergency is unfolding in the northwest of Syria where an estimated 104,000 people have been uprooted from their homes in Afrin region by the latest escalation in fighting.

In the face of the growing Afrin emergency, UNHCR said it has scaled up its response, with 100,000 core relief items having been delivered in the last two days.