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Damascus suburb of 400000 faces "catastrophe" without aid: United Nations official

In Eastern Ghouta, Egeland said there are signs of "acutely malnourished" children and people are dying because it is impossible to have a medical evacuation.

United Nations humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland says the conflict in Syria is returning to its "bleakest days" as the people trapped in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta face mass starvation.

Seven people recently died because they were not evacuated, said Egeland, adding, "29 cases that are the most critical cases, they will die if they will not be evacuated, they include 18 children". "Now the only lifeline would be our convoys", said Egeland.

The region, where a "de-escalation zone" deal was agreed by regime allies Iran and Russian Federation and rebel backer Turkey in July, is now seeing increasingly dire conditions, he said.

"We have had a period of de-escalation in many areas".

"We can not continue like that. It still hasn't produced the results needed, but it is our strong feeling that Russian Federation wants us to get the access and wants to help us, so we are hopeful that this trilateral mechanism will yield results soon", he added. He said many were babies whose mothers had been too malnourished themselves to breastfeed.

The situation is particularly concerning in eastern Ghouta, near the capital Damascus, where some 400,000 men, women and children are living in besieged towns and villages, and extremely high prices have put food and basic supplies beyond reach. This has created a situation where hundreds of civilians, majority women and children, need to be evacuated. "We really cannot understand that they can't be evacuated", he added. "What about a cease-fire in this area and a green light to all medical evacuations?" he asked. More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests, before spiralling into a complex, multi-front war that drew in worldwide forces and jihadists.



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