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Aid agencies call for 'steps on the ground' after reports of continued bombardment in eastern Ghouta

Aid agencies call for 'steps on the ground' after reports of continued bombardment in eastern Ghouta
By Katy Dartford
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Air strikes by the Syrian government on the rebel-held enclave are reported to have continued despite a ceasefire resolution passed by the UN Security Council.


A UN resolution approving a 30-day ceasefire in Syria must be followed by steps on the ground, a humanitarian agency said on Sunday, as activists reported some bombardment still continuing in eastern Ghouta.

The UN security Council approved a ceasefire resolution for Syria on Saturday night, resulting in a relative calm in besieged areas outside the Syrian capital Damascus.

Still, activists reported shelling occurred on Sunday in the rebel-held eastern Ghouta enclave, which saw one of the worst bombardments in the seven-year long Syrian civil war.

A video released by the Syrian Civil Defence, a group of first responders operating in opposition areas also known as the White Helmets, is said to show an injured child being rescued from the rubble of a building hit by shelling on Sunday.

A spokesperson for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Paul Donohoe, said it was still too early to judge whether there was any improvement on the ground, and that there had been reports the bombardments had continued.

"I know speaking to colleagues inside eastern Ghouta that they are living in constant fear and they are worried that the next bomb might hit their home and kill their family."

"This is obviously a terrifying situation that they are going through and we just need the killing to stop, for the aid convoys to be allowed into the area and for the medical evacuation to occur."

The IRC has been providing aid support for several medical facilities inside eastern Ghouta.

The non-governmental organisation (NGO) is calling for the immediate evacuation of injured civilians and aid convoys to be allowed in the besieged areas.

"The severity of the bombardment has meant that unfortunately only the most urgent cases could be treated.

"People are in a medical emergency right now. We know that unfortunately more than a dozen hospitals seem to have been hit in the last week and put out of action, and you can just imagine the consequence of that for people who have been injured and not able to receive medical treatment."

For Donohoe and organisations working on the ground in Syria, the UN resolution is welcome news, but they say it needs to be put into concrete actions on the ground.

"An awful of the medical facilities have run out of the equipment they need and the drugs they need to help treat people."

"We know that the last kidney dialysis centre run out of the medication for people requiring treatment at the end of January, and we unfortunately have heard of people using expired drugs and medicines, and doctors who had to start reusing some of their supplies."

The relative calm in Ghouta on Sunday came after a week of intense airstrikes and shelling that killed more than 500 people in eastern Ghouta, and which also left dozens dead or wounded in the government-held Damascus, which rebels bombarded with mortar shells.

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