Syrians in ex-rebel zones struggle for aid

Syrian children play amidst badly damaged buildings in Zabdin, in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of Damascus, on October 08, 2018. / AFP / LOUAI BESHARA

Tens of thousands of Syrians in areas recaptured by government troops this year remain starved of humanitarian aid, with the relief agencies helping them for years now unable to reach them. As towns switched from opposition to government control, international aid groups were forced to halt their crucial health, food and protection services as they had no government authorization to work.

Since April, this has left vulnerable civilians in Syria’s south, Eastern Ghouta near Damascus and rural parts of Homs province without the vital support they once relied on.

“In total, tens of thousands of people are impacted by the halt in humanitarian aid,” said Joelle Bassoul, spokeswoman for CARE International, which used to send aid into rebel-held areas.

“In effect, when we stop operating, it means our partners have stopped operating and have no more humanitarian capacity in the given area.”

More than seven years into Syria’s conflict, 13 million people across the country still need humanitarian assistance, the United Nations says.