European Commissioners Federica Mogherini and Christos Stylianides have condemned the ongoing conflict in eastern Ghouta, Syria.
Conflict in eastern Ghouta has continued unabated in the region since last November, when the Syrian regime – supported by Russian allies – conducted more than 400 airstrikes on rebel-held parts of the region. The BBC reports that the ongoing conflict claims the lives of dozens of civilians in the region each day, and there have also been reports of Syrian authorities using chemical weapons.
In recognition of the impact the attacks were having on innocent civilians, the UN Security Council passed a resolution two weeks ago demanding a halt to all hostilities for 30 consecutive days across the entirety of Syria. This would allow the delivery of humanitarian aid and assistance, as well as the evacuation of the wounded from eastern Ghouta.
What has the European Commission said?
In a joint statement, Mogherini and Stylianides denounced both parties in the conflict for failing to uphold the ceasefire: “the Syrian regime and its allies [have] continued their military offensive in blatant disregard of the provision of the resolution, of human suffering and of International Humanitarian Law.”
Further, the commissioners warned that action in the region, particularly shelling of the civilian population, could potentially amount to war crimes, and said that they welcomed the UN’s plan to open an investigation into this.
Have citizens been able to evacuate the region?
The commissioners have warned that there remain some 27,500 people affected by the conflict in eastern Ghouta, and also estimate that more than 1,000 people are in need of medical attention or evacuation. While limited aid has been delivered to the area, there are still many in need in the area.
The commissioners explained: “The fact that on 5 March a UN aid convoy was finally allowed to enter Douma, bringing health and food supplies for 27,500 people in need, is a small positive step. But at the same time, it is disappointing that once again the Syrian regime removed critical medical items from the convoy in clear violation of International Humanitarian Law. And one convoy once in a while is far from sufficient.
They urged the Syrian regime to urgently and fully implement the UN Security Council’s resolution, respect international law, and step up their efforts to de-escalate violence in the region.