New Siege Watch: Urgent action needed to save Eastern Ghouta

December 14, 2017

Eastern Ghouta, a besieged opposition-held enclave East of Damascus, is facing a man-made humanitarian disaster.

An estimated 424,260 people are at risk. In the Siege Watch Eighth Quarterly Report, PAX and The Syria Institute call for urgent action to stop the bombardments, allow for medical evacuations, and secure the sustained entry of food and medicine. PAX programme leader Marjolein Wijninckx says, “International stakeholders must increase political pressure to save the people in Eastern Ghouta and prevent it from becoming the next Aleppo.”

3/4 million people under siege
The new Siege Watch report, covering the period of August-October 2017, documents at least 33 besieged communities with almost 750,000 people living under siege. Over a million more people live in so-called “Watchlist” areas that are at risk of becoming fully besieged. The Syrian government and its allies are responsible for the vast majority of sieges and all the “Watchlist” risks.

Ghouta critical
Over the past months, conditions have deteriorated significantly in Eastern Ghouta – the largest remaining besieged enclave in the country – due to intensified siege conditions and intensified violence. In November, Siege Watch elevated all of the communities in Eastern Ghouta to the most critical status, Tier 1, for the first time.

In addition, during the reporting period, Al-Raqqa city was also briefly elevated to the Tier 1 critically besieged status, only to be removed from monitoring efforts altogether in October after it was almost entirely depopulated by the US-led Coalition and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) during their anti-ISIS offensive. The siege of Deir Ezzor was broken by pro-government forces with heavy Russian support, and was subsequently reclassified as a “Watchlist” community.

Siege Watch is a joint initiative of Dutch peace organization PAX and Washington DC-based think tank The Syria Institute that aims to provide the international community with timely and accurate information on conditions in Syria’s besieged communities. An interactive map and quarterly reports can be found at The Twitter feed @SiegeWatch provides frequent updates.

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