The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned of a humanitarian crisis in Syria's besieged Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, due to intensified fighting, food shortages, and blocking of medical evacuations and aid delivery.
"The humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta has reached a critical point. As so often in Syria over the last 6 years, ordinary people are once again trapped in a situation where life slowly becomes impossible and where goods and aid are severely limited," the ICRC's Middle East director, Robert Mardini said in a statement on Monday.
"The sick and injured must not be used as pawns in negotiations between the different parties involved in the fighting. Medical attention must be promptly given to those who need it irrespective of who they are," Mardini added.
Noting that many civilians have been killed or injured since the latest spike in hostilities began on Nov. 14, ICRC said hundreds of sick and wounded people have been deprived from life-saving medical care. The ICRC director called on warring parties "to reach a solution that puts civilians first and allows humanitarian aid to reach the population on a regular basis". "No military or political gains could justify this amount of suffering, whether in Eastern Ghouta or elsewhere in Syria," he added.
On Dec. 7, the unified Syrian opposition delegation had urged Russia to put pressure on the regime for a medical evacuation in Eastern Ghouta. Home to some 400,000 civilians, Eastern Ghouta has been under siege by regime forces since December 2012.