A street in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Syria. Photo: UNICEF/Amer Al Shami
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Hundreds of people face critical conditions in Ghouta, rural Damascus having been cut off from humanitarian assistance, said the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), calling for immediate medical evacuations or they may not survive.
"We have now reached a critical point, where the lives of hundreds of people, including many children, are at stake," said Elizabeth Hoff, head of WHO operations in Syria in a news release on Sunday. "If they do not immediately get the medical care they urgently need, they will most likely die."
More than 240 people are in need of urgent advanced medical care which includes 29 "priority" patients – mostly children – who are in need of immediate medical evacuations.
"The situation is heartbreaking," she added.
As many as 400,000 people besieged in eastern Ghouta are facing severe food and medical shortages have been completely cut-off from lifesaving assistance since September as fighting continues in the war torn country.
WHO has said that plans are in place for medical evacuations to hospitals and medical facilities in Damascus and surrounding areas as well as medicines ready for dispatch.
"At this stage, however, no formal approval for evacuations has been received from the responsible national authorities," added WHO in the release.
Syria has been embroiled in an almost seven-year-long civil war that has killed at least 400,000 people according to the United Nations. It has been complicated by the rise of ISIS, further destabilizing the country.