Baby dies awaiting evacuation from Syria's besieged Eastern Ghouta

A six-month-old baby who was on a list of critically ill people to be evacuated from Syria's besieged Eastern Ghouta ...

Posted: Dec 28, 2017 9:08 AM
Updated: Dec 28, 2017 9:08 AM

A six-month-old baby who was on a list of critically ill people to be evacuated from Syria's besieged Eastern Ghouta has died, a medical organization said Wednesday.

Katr Alnada was number 18 on the list of just 29 people that were granted passage to the capital, Damascus, for medical treatment under a people-swap agreement between the Syrian government and a rebel group, according to Mohamad Katoub, an advocacy manager for the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) in neighboring Turkey.

18 children are among a group of 29 people being evacuated

Medical group says that 641 people are in need of urgent care

"When (the) local team reached her they found that she died weeks ago," he wrote on Twitter.

The baby was to be transferred to a hospital in the capital after the rebel group Jaish Al-Islam agreed to hand over prisoners in exchange for the evacuations, according to Katoub. The rebel group also confirmed the deal to Reuters, saying it would hand over 29 prisoners for 29 people in need of care, 18 of which are children.

The agreement broke a months-long deadlock and the first four people, including three children, were transferred overnight, said Ingy Sedky, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Syria. Humanitarian organizations had been pleading for months to allow the transfers.

Eastern Ghouta is one of Syria's last rebel strongholds, but it has been under siege by regime forces for more than four years. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had repeatedly refused aid into the enclave and evacuations out of it. Assad's government has accused rebel groups there of using civilians as human shields.

SAMS reports that at least 17 patients have died over the past few months in the enclave because they were not able to access medical care.

According to SAMS, the evacuees are "suffering from heart disease, cancer, kidney failure and blood diseases, in addition to cases requiring advanced surgery that are not available in the besieged area."

There have been no evacuations since the four overnight, said the ICRC's Sedky, but she added that they were expected to resume Wednesday night.

"The operation yesterday went very smoothly and we managed to transfer the medical cases safely to their destination to receive necessary treatment in Damascus," she said, adding that family members were allowed to accompany patients.

When asked why so few people had so far been evacuated, she said: "Usually this type of operation is very complicated, involving coordination with different parties to make sure people on the way will be protected and get out safely from the area. Security guarantees are very important for us, so it will be a lengthy process."

It is not clear if the Syrian government and rebel groups will agree to more than 29 evacuations. There are also concerns over how the evacuees will be treated, having come from a rebel-held area and into Assad's center of power in Damascus.

137 children in need of urgent care

Humanitarian organizations have been pleading for months with the Syrian government to allow the critically ill to leave. SAMS warned that the situation had "reached breaking point" and that 641 people require urgent medical attention, while the ICRC said a list of 500 of the most urgent cases had been compiled.

UNICEF reports that 137 children are among those in Eastern Ghouta need of urgent medical care.

The UN's humanitarian chief in Syria, Jan Egeland, said on December 21 that a nine-month-old baby had died in Eastern Ghouta due to acute malnutrition and respiratory complications.

"Had we gotten permission to evacuate to hospital ready in Damascus the child would have been alive today," he wrote on Twitter.

UN officials warned last month that the area was experiencing the worst outbreak of child malnutrition since the civil war began, and that hundreds of people in need of urgent medical attention were trapped there.

Sedky from the ICRC said Eastern Ghouta's humanitarian situation had deteriorated considerably in recent months.

"There is a huge shortage of food. Most families can barely manage one meal a day, if any. You see people eating boiled corn, or soup, but not much else. And the lack of food is pushing prices up," she said,

A bag of bread for one family that would usually cost 50 cents now cost $10, she explained.

Turkey-Russia talks

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said over the weekend that his country was working with Russia and President Vladimir Putin to evacuate hundreds of people from Eastern Ghouta, including some to Turkey.

"We are discussing with (Putin) how to evacuate them to our country without problems and provide them with medical assistance," Russia's state-run Sputnik news agency quoted Erdogan as saying.

Eastern Ghouta had in May been designated a de-escalation zone by Russia, Turkey and Iran -- which are acting as brokers to resolve Syria's six-year war -- but violence between rebels and regime forces has returned to the enclave in recent weeks.

Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, was taken by rebels in the conflict that erupted with the Arab Spring, but it was besieged by government forces in 2013 and has since then suffered from a dire lack of aid.

It has a population of 400,000, but there is currently a ratio of only one doctor for each 4,000 residents, SAMS said.

In theory, residents in the area should be in a safe zone free from airstrikes, shelling and fighting. But they have suffered from both a lengthy siege and continued bombardment.

This renewed violence comes amid peace talks and a declaration of victory from Moscow, in which Russian President Vladimir Putin said his military forces would begin to withdraw.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 45952

Reported Deaths: 2650
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11387679
Lake4872240
Elkhart308543
Allen2677114
St. Joseph184965
Cass16369
Hamilton1484100
Hendricks136699
Johnson1235118
Porter68537
Madison64363
Tippecanoe6408
Clark62244
Bartholomew57844
Howard54356
LaPorte53925
Kosciusko4952
LaGrange4596
Jackson4553
Noble44728
Vanderburgh4306
Hancock42935
Delaware42648
Boone42242
Shelby41625
Marshall4123
Floyd36344
Morgan32031
Montgomery28720
Grant28526
Clinton2792
Dubois2606
White25810
Monroe25628
Decatur24632
Henry23515
Lawrence23124
Vigo2248
Harrison20822
Dearborn20422
Warrick20129
Greene18431
Miami1802
Jennings16911
Putnam1658
DeKalb1594
Scott1547
Daviess13916
Orange13323
Wayne1286
Franklin1248
Steuben1232
Perry1209
Ripley1127
Carroll1092
Jasper1092
Wabash1072
Fayette967
Newton9510
Whitley814
Randolph764
Starke733
Huntington702
Wells681
Jay670
Fulton661
Jefferson651
Washington641
Pulaski631
Knox620
Clay594
Rush573
Benton480
Adams451
Owen451
Gibson442
Sullivan441
Brown381
Blackford372
Posey350
Spencer311
Tipton301
Crawford290
Fountain292
Switzerland250
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Warren141
Union130
Vermillion130
Pike80
Unassigned0194

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 52865

Reported Deaths: 2876
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin9338407
Cuyahoga7013366
Hamilton5224198
Marion273138
Lucas2628302
Pickaway217641
Summit1969206
Montgomery178426
Mahoning1752228
Butler144844
Columbiana120960
Stark1052112
Lorain96267
Trumbull86362
Warren75721
Clark7399
Belmont53421
Delaware51815
Tuscarawas51510
Fairfield50316
Medina49132
Lake44316
Miami44231
Ashtabula42144
Portage41858
Licking41611
Geauga39042
Wood38451
Clermont3566
Wayne35452
Richland3185
Allen29740
Mercer2728
Darke23625
Erie22922
Greene2229
Holmes2043
Madison1888
Huron1772
Crawford1357
Ottawa13023
Washington12720
Sandusky12213
Morrow1151
Putnam11516
Hardin11312
Ross1092
Auglaize993
Monroe8617
Coshocton811
Jefferson802
Union801
Hancock761
Hocking767
Muskingum731
Preble661
Lawrence650
Williams652
Clinton620
Guernsey603
Shelby594
Logan581
Wyandot584
Fulton570
Ashland551
Brown531
Carroll513
Defiance483
Fayette460
Highland431
Knox391
Champaign381
Athens371
Scioto360
Seneca332
Perry301
Henry290
Van Wert270
Paulding230
Vinton222
Adams211
Pike200
Jackson170
Gallia141
Harrison121
Meigs110
Noble110
Morgan90
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 86°
Angola
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 84°
Huntington
Few Clouds
83° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 84°
Decatur
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 83°
Van Wert
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 83°
Hot Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events