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Voices from Damascus: ‘we are trying to stay alive’

Lubna Alkanawati, who runs Women Now, a centre to support women affected by the conflict, wrote: 

‘Our colleagues are trying to stay alive with their families in the dark and ill-equipped shelters along with all other families of Eastern Ghouta. The shelters are not supplied with enough water or food, and children have not seen sunshine for weeks. We appeal to everyone of you to raise your voices for the families of Ghouta before we see a repeated of Aleppo. The violence needs to stop now and civilians need to be safe from bombing and shelling’.

Women Now have been forced to close all three of their centres in Ghouta, two of which have been completely destroyed by the bombing. 

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A family huddles in a shelter in Damascus to protect themselves from airstrikes. [Photo: Women Now]

Caritas Syria has also closed its centres in Damascus. A message from Caritas Syria read:

‘People in Damascus are very depressed. They were optimistic in the last few months, and they felt that they reached the end of war; they feel now that they are back to zero. Most of the families who are living in the eastern part of the city stopped sending their children to schools. Main streets and squares that are usually very crowded during the day are now almost empty. All people are very precautious in their movements’.

JRS, another partner organisation of Trócaire who work in Damascus, said: 

‘Yesterday, In Damascus (centre) city 15 people were killed and about 50 injured. Around east Ghouta something like 100 people were killed and several hundreds injured. The situation today is very, very bad. One of our colleagues was injured yesterday by a missile’s fragment in her shoulder. Another colleague’s house was hit by a mortar shell, and thank God all of her family members are well and no one was injured’. 

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A Women Now centre in Damascus lies in ruins after being hit by an airstrike. [Photo: Women Now]

The basic rules of war have been long forgotten by the many actors in this brutal conflict. Civilians are not safe. They are denied food, protection and other humanitarian assistance. 

The international community can no longer stand idly by as this devastating human tragedy continues to escalate.

There is an urgent need for a ceasefire and guaranteed access for humanitarian organisations to provide aid to the civilian population. 

As your read this, people are huddled into shelters, fearing that they will not see tomorrow. 

Attacks on civilians must stop. The deafening silence from the international community must also end. 

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