We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.


'A relentless mass casualty disaster': Medical aid at breaking point in East Ghouta

More than 900 civilians have been killed in the nearly three-week assault in Ghouta, Syria.

[image alt="Wounded children in East Ghouta hospital" src="" width="296" height="197" credit-source="%20Anas%20Alkharboutli" credit-via="PA%20Images" caption="Syrians%20receive%20first%20aid%20after%20another%20attack%20in%20Ghouta" class="alignnone" /end]

MÉDECINS SANS FRONTIERES (MSF) has today released medical data from hospitals and clinics in Syria’s besieged East Ghouta which reveals a “relentless barrage of mass casualty influxes”.

More than 900 civilians have been killed in the nearly three-week assault on the last rebel enclave outside the capital.

The fighting has prompted international outrage, culminating in the UN Security Council demanding an immediate ceasefire, aid deliveries and evacuations.

In the two weeks between 18 February and 3 March, the data reveals 4,839 wounded and 1,005 dead – or 344 wounded and 71 dead per day on average. This data was collected from 10 different medical facilities to which MSF provides aid to in East Ghouta.

“These numbers alone speak volumes. But even more telling are the words we hear from the medics we are supporting on the ground,” Meinie Nicolai, MSF general director said.

[image alt="Wounded children in East Ghouta hospital" src="" width="296" height="197" credit-source="%20Anas%20Alkharboutli" credit-via="PA%20Images" caption="These%20are%20the%20scenes%20from%20a%20hospital%20after%20a%20bomb%20attack%20in%20Ghouta" class="alignnone" /end]

“Daily, we hear an increasing sense of hopelessness and despair, as our medical colleagues reach the limits of what a person can be expected to do,” Nicolai said.

They are exhausted to the point of collapse, grabbing a few moments’ sleep as and when possible, permanently in fear of bombs or shells directly hitting their location.

Nicolai said the staff are trying their best to keep some semblance of a medical service operating, but “everything is overwhelmingly stacked against them”.

Medical supplies shortages

MSF’s reserve stocks of medical supplies in East Ghouta are being distributed amidst the almost ceaseless bombing and selling, but these supplies are being consumed rapidly by the supported facilities.

Some key items, particularly for surgery, have run out.

[image alt="Aid convoy enters Syria's besieged Eastern Ghouta" src="" width="296" height="197" credit-source="Samer%20Bouidani" credit-via="PA%20Images" caption="An%20aid%20convoy%20of%20the%20International%20Committee%20for%20the%20Red%20Cross%20drives%20through%20the%20rebel-held%20city%20of%20Douma%2C%20Eastern%20Ghouta%20province" class="alignnone" /end]

An official aid convoy, who was granted access to the northern part of the enclave on Monday, had medical items removed by the government of Syria, according to the UN which was co-manager of the convoy.

The need for a massive medical re-supply, without life-saving items being removed, is increasingly urgent with each passing hour, MSF said.

15 of the 20 hospitals and clinics that MSF is supporting have been hit by bombing or shelling, with varying degrees of damage. Four of the medics MSF supports have been killed and twenty wounded.

“The sheer number of wounded received by the medical facilities we support in East Ghouta is simply staggering,” Sam Taylor, director of MSF Ireland said.

“The medics are now utterly exhausted, their supplies depleted and they are dispirited beyond words,” he said.

[image alt="Destruction in Douma" src="" width="296" height="197" credit-source="Samer%20Bouidani" credit-via="PA%20Images" caption="A%20Syrian%20man%20walks%20past%20rubble%20from%20damaged%20houses%20in%20the%20rebel-held%20city%20of%20Douma%2C%20eastern%20Al%20Ghouta%20province" class="alignnone" /end]

Calls for support

The MSF is urgently calling for all the fighting parties and their supports to pause the bombing and shelling to allow a reorganisation of the medical response.

It is calling on them to allow the unobstructed resupply of life-saving medicines and medical supplies, without life-saving items before removed from aid convoys.

It is also calling on them to allow medical evacuation of the most critical patients and to allow independent humanitarian medical bodies to enter the area to provide hands-on assistance.

Read: ‘We spoke on the phone to people in Eastern Ghouta who said: ‘We are dying”

More: ‘We have two options: death or displacement’

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel