Heavy Airstrikes Force CARE Partners to Halt Aid Distribution in Eastern Ghouta

Heavy Airstrikes Force CARE Partners to Halt Aid Distribution in Eastern Ghouta

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AMMAN, Jordan (Feb. 20, 2018) — Global humanitarian organization CARE announced today that heavy bombing near Damascus has forced its Syrian humanitarian partners to halt the delivery of lifesaving aid to thousands of people in besieged eastern Ghouta. The bombing has pushed civilians, including aid workers, into underground shelters.

“The situation in eastern Ghouta is more critical than ever. Despite their resilience for years, people are giving up hope for survival. Unlike previous airstrikes, destruction has reached every area this time. There is no place for people to go — no shelter, no safety,” said Hanaa*, who works in eastern Ghouta with a local organization supported by CARE.

A staff member from another Syrian organization active in the area stated that the situation was the worst since the beginning of the siege. “Shelling and airstrikes are targeting heavily populated areas. All vital buildings are under attack, including bakeries, markets, medical facilities and other civilian infrastructures,” said Saleh*, who works for the organization.

A third organization reported that a medical worker had lost his life in an airstrike that hit the hospital the organization operates in the area.

More than 100 civilians, including children, were reportedly killed in air raids, rocket strikes and shelling on Monday, in what was the heaviest one-day death toll in eastern Ghouta. On Tuesday, the toll had risen to nearly 200, according to media reports. The area, home to nearly 400,000 people who have been besieged by government forces since 2012, has recently seen a surge in deadly airstrikes, and a tightening of the siege. Schools have been closed for two months now.

“The extreme escalation in violence has made it impossible for humanitarian agencies to reach the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable civilians trapped in eastern Ghouta. Civilians are deprived of food and medicine and are facing hunger and death. If a ceasefire is not reached now, we will be facing a humanitarian catastrophe,” said Wouter Schaap, CARE’s country director for Syria.

CARE and the its partners in Syria call for an immediate ceasefire and echo the United Nations’ call for a 30-day humanitarian truce and for lifting the siege so that humanitarian agencies can deliver critical aid to hundreds of thousands of people and evacuate civilians in need of urgent medical care.

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of individuals.


About CARE       

Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside women and girls because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. That’s why women and girls are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education and health, create economic opportunity, respond to emergencies and confront hunger. Last year CARE worked in 93 countries and reached 65 million people around the world. Learn more at care.org.

Media Contacts

Nicole Harris, nharris@care.org, 404-735-0871


Fighting in Syria has already driven millions of Syrians from their homes and from their country, like this child who fled Syria for Lebanon. Recent airstrikes near Damascus have forced CARE partners to suspend delivery of lifesaving aid to thousands of Syrian clinging to survival.