White Helmets urge UN to intervene in Syria's E. Ghouta


The White Helmets civil defense agency has called on the UN to take "necessary steps" to ease the dire humanitarian situation in Syria's besieged Eastern Ghouta district.

In a Wednesday statement, the agency said that attacks by the Assad regime were ongoing despite the recent adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2401, which calls for a 30-day ceasefire.

The White Helmets went on to say that 30 civilians had been injured in a chlorine gas attack on Tuesday, which reportedly occurred shortly after a UN aid convoy entered the area.

The convoy was unable to deliver lifesaving medical supplies as a result of the attack, the agency said, adding that 42 civilians had been killed the same day in separate attacks by the regime.

"Since Feb. 19, more than 661 civilians have been killed -- and another 2,373 injured -- in Eastern Ghouta," read the statement.

The UN, for its part, announced Tuesday that it had been unable to unload 14 of 46 trucks ferrying aid to Eastern Ghouta due to escalating violence.

The people of Eastern Ghouta "have endured months without access to humanitarian assistance," Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said in a statement.

"Food… is in short supply or prohibitively expensive and high rates of acute malnutrition were observed," Laerke added.

Home to some 400,000 people, Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, has remained under a crippling regime siege for the last five years.

Within the last eight months, regime forces have stepped up the siege, making it almost impossible for food or medicine to enter the district.

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