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Everything is destroyed: A voice from inside Syria
Hanadi is an aid worker in eastern Ghouta, Syria. These are her words:
“The night before last was the first night I sleep horizontally on the floor. We have gotten used to sleeping sitting up or with our legs curled up to make space for others in underground shelters.
“For as long as I can remember, I have always had my own pillow, my own blanket, my bed, my room, my house, my neighbourhood, my city, my country.
My country has fallen ill, my city is occupied, my neighbourhood is destroyed and my house is gone.
“I move from one underground shelter to the other, without having the privacy of a room, or even a bed, a blanket or a pillow.
“Mostly, my pillow is my jacket. I fold it and I put it under my head. First, if there are airstrikes or an emergency, it is close to me.
“Second, due to the need to move and constant displacement in unsafe conditions, we have lost most of our things, or we have had to give them up to move or run more easily.
Yesterday was the first time I eat a filling meal in a month, but unfortunately, most people have still not slept properly or eaten a sufficient meal.
“Until now, I have not had clean water. Until now, I have not slept a whole night.
“From the first time I went underground last month, I have had constant colds and tonsil infections. Medicine has always been difficult to find in Ghouta and now it is nearly impossible.
Everything in our life comes quickly, even the wrinkles in our face and the dark circles under our eyes, except for relief. We can feel it, but we cannot see it and we hope it is near.
“I miss so many things. A girl asked me, ‘what do you miss the most?’ I told her, ‘safety’. She said:
I miss cleanliness. A clean place, clean water, clean clothes and a clean life.
About the crisis
Since 11 March 2018, at least 45,000-50,000 people have reportedly left eastern Ghouta due to fierce fighting, aerial bombardments and lack of supplies.
Most of those who have left are staying in collective shelters in rural Damascus. All of the shelters are well over capacity, with more people continuing to arrive on a daily basis.
Many of these people are experiencing trauma and poor health due to years of lack of access to medicine and health care.
Meanwhile, many civilians are trapped in the city, or choose to remain.
The UN, with support from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, international organisations including CARE, and local Syrian organisations, is coordinating humanitarian responses in the shelters in rural Damascus and in Duma and other areas in eastern Ghouta.
Many supplies such as food and medical supplies have already been delivered and distributed, but much more is needed given the scale of displacement and the level of need within the city itself.