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Al Ghouta Under Siege

Once known as the fertile green belt of Syria, Al Ghouta is now a dark grey scar in Syria’s ongoing humanitarian crisis. Areas under siege in Syria are completely surrounded by armed forces restricting and blocking access to people, medical and humanitarian assistance. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians living in such areas are denied the basic necessities of food, water and medicine and in total dependence on the world outside. Of the most badly affected besieged areas is Al Ghouta, once a thriving agricultural district surrounding southern and eastern Damascus. Al Ghouta has provided its inhabitants and the surrounding areas with a variety of cereals, vegetables, and fruits for thousands of years. Not anymore. According to a report by the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), the former farming paradise is now a living hell for an estimated 425,000-600,000 people trapped inside. The siege of Al Ghouta is considered one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the Syrian crisis. Civilians have been reduced to foraging for leaves and wild plants, and a number of victims are said to have died from ingesting toxic vegetation. Our Syria Relief team in Damascus met with Mohammad Fayyad, a 16-year old victim of the many tragedies that lie in this city. When we visited him in his house in Douma, his father, Jamil told us his story: “At the beginning of last winter, my son caught Hepatitis A.  He kept getting worse and worse… one, two, three months, nothing changed. We did a biopsy and discovered he had pulmonary and spinal Tuberculosis (TB), which had reached his chest and brain because of the 5 month delay in the diagnosis.” We don’t know what he future holds for this besieged city, but despite tough restrictions our team in Damascus are working hard to get basic necessities through. With the help of our donors and team on the ground we hope to provide much needed sustenance to the long-suffering inhabitants and eventually give them the vitality to transform Al Ghouta back to the green paradise it once was.

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