‘Besieged to death’: Manchester charity Human Appeal call for immediate Syria ceasefire

A Greater Manchester-based charity, Human Appeal, are calling for an immediate ceasefire for innocent people in Eastern Ghouta to get to safety.

The ‘siege’ on the suburban town east of Damascus is said to have killed nearly 400 people since Sunday, with many hundreds more injured.

Human Appeal has been working in Syria since 2011 through local partners to provide food aid, shelter and essential items for survival.

The organisation has described the situation in Eastern Ghouta as a ‘massacre’ worse than Aleppo.

As well as calling for a ceasefire, it has also called on military actors to take “necessary measures” to protect civilian and medical buildings.

Charles Lawley, Human Appeal’s UK Media & External Affairs Coordinator, told MM their workers on the ground have described the situation as ‘mass slaughter’.

“There’s no consideration for human life,” he said. “There’s no targeting of military infrastructure. The entire town is being besieged to death.”

However, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia has called the reports of heavy civilian casualties ‘fake news’ and a product of ‘mass psychosis’.

Russia rejected a UN Security Council draft resolution that called for a 30-day ceasefire saying that it was simply unrealistic.

Responding to the Russian allegations, Lawley said that the casualty figures are based on UN sources.

“It’s not fake news. It’s from people on the ground who are acting independently.”

Lawley added organisations like Human Appeal are the only way to get aid to the affected area.

A member of Human Appeal’s staff in Turkey, Mohamed Goumni, told Sky News on Friday that bombs were falling on buildings as he was speaking to aid workers in Eastern Ghouta.

“Unfortunately no one can escape from Ghouta because it is besieged,” Goumni said. “No one is allowed to get in or out of Ghouta.”

Lawley said that the UK government and people are very generous and always donate when there is a crisis, but also asked those who are concerned by the situation to write to their MPs.

“Ask for them to act with the Syrian people in mind,” he said.

“All we can do is ask for more to be done, because at the moment not enough is being done […] something needs to happen so that civilians are not being killed in their homes.”

In a statement about the crisis, Human Appeal said that there has been talk throughout the conflict of “red lines” when crimes against humanity have been committed, but no action has been taken.

But Lawley said that the international community now needs to put pressure on people deliberately targeting schools, hospitals and places of worship.

Echoing this frustration over inaction, Mohamed Goumni blamed all parties involved in the conflict.

“All parties have a certain responsibility of keeping the lives of the civilians in Ghouta,” he said. “We are tired of words, we want actions.”

Former Bury North MP Alistair Burt, recently appointed Minister of State for the Middle East, said on Twitter that the UK would be urging the UN Security Council to pass a resolution for a ceasefire.

However, Russia’s veto power at the Security Council makes such a resolution difficult to pass.

Image courtesy of Euronews via YouTube, with thanks.

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