The Third Quarterly Siege Watch Report published today details conditions for at least 1,005,275 people living in more than 40 besieged communities in Syria. More than 1.4 million additional people live in areas on our “Watchlist” and are under direct threat of becoming fully besieged, including over 200,000 in eastern Aleppo city.
In besieged areas of Syria, the past quarter was characterized by decreased aid access and a dramatic escalation of violence. Six besieged communities in Eastern Ghouta were captured by force and all of their citizens were displaced. Since the reporting period ended several more besieged communities have been emptied through violence and coercion. Notable among these was Darayya, which was pushed to the brink of collapse in the days leading up to its surrender by incendiary attacks, the destruction of its field hospital, the burning of crops, and non-stop barrel bombing. Sadly Darayya is not unique, and a number of other besieged communities may face similar fates in the coming months.
For the third quarter in a row, these Siege Watch data indicates a much larger problem than the UN officially recognizes, with only 590,200 people in 18 besieged communities as of the end of July. These differences are not due to methodology, as Siege Watch purposefully uses the UN OCHA criteria to designate an area as besieged. As long as the UN, which informs the actions of the international community, fails to recognize the full scope of the problem, it is unlikely that an appropriate response will be possible.
Siege Watch is a joint effort of The Syria Institute and PAX, a Dutch peace building NGO. This third quarterly reports covers the period from May to July 2016. For more information visit Siege Watch online at www.siegewatch.org, and follow us on Twitter at @SiegeWatch.