“During the first day since the hotline was launched by the Center for Syrian reconciliation in the city of Damascus, we received more than 30 calls from civilians in Eastern Ghouta, as well as from their families and relatives in Damascus. In their appeals, people complain about the lack of medical care, water, food, electricity,” center’s interpreters' department head Aleksandr Maslennikov told reporters.
According to the official, some local residents attempted to bribe the militants in exchange for an opportunity to leave Eastern Ghouta, but the militants refused.
“We also received complaints about the fact that the militants increased the prices for basic necessities, as well as for food products by dozens of times. People do not have an opportunity to eat properly, and many are ready to resort to eating stray animals,” Maslennikov said.
Bombing Continues, No Medical Evacuations, Supplies Underway
Shelling and bombing continue in the Damascus neighborhood of Eastern Ghouta, preventing evacuation of those wounded from the area and humanitarian supplies to the district, the Medecins Sans Frontieres' (MSF) in Russia said in a statement, sent to Sputnik.
"Past two days and nights, continued bombing and shelling, covering almost all of East Ghouta but mainly on the outskirts — very heavy in places. No medical evacuations out as far as we are aware. No supplies in as far as we are aware. Overall – the situation the same as before. Still bombing and shelling ongoing, heavy in some areas and less heavy (but still deadly) in others," the statement read.
Between February 18 and February 27, over 770 people had been killed, and 4,050 others injured as result of the situation in the area, the document continued.
These figures are, however, an underestimate since they are reported by only some of the medical facilities with which the MSF is cooperating, the MSF office noted, adding that there are also other medical facilities operating in Eastern Ghouta, which do not report to the aid organization.
Fifteen out of 20 local medical facilities supported by the MSF have been hit by bombing or shelling. Moreover, three MSF-supported medics were killed and eight others injured since the escalation of the situation in Eastern Ghouta on February 18.
Outpatient services are almost entirely inactive in the medical facilities in Eastern Ghouta since many outpatient departments have been turned into post-operative or inpatient wards, the MSF noted.
On March 1, at 09:00 a.m. Damascus time (07:00 GMT) the third five-hour "humanitarian pause" began in Eastern Ghouta. In order to evacuate civilians, a humanitarian corridor with access to Muhayam-al-Wafedin settlement was prepared with the assistance of the Syrian Red Crescent Society.
The citizens were informed of the evacuation details through broadcasting, SMS, and leaflets explaining how to exit from the area and to pass government checkpoints.
Later in the day before, spokesman for Russian center for Syrian reconciliation Maj. Gen. Vladimir Zolotukhin said that civilians residing in Eastern Ghouta were massively contacting representatives of Syrian human rights organizations with a request to assist their evacuation from the territories held by militants.
The decision on the resolution was made nearly two weeks after the escalation of the situation in Eastern Ghouta, following the launch of a military operation by the Syrian government forces, in a bid to clear the region of militants.