London- 486,700 people in Syria are subject to blockades, over half of which are entrapped by regime forces. These figures are derived from an original 4.6 million people who reside in areas difficult to reach, according to last month’s report of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
In reality these figures do not reflect the current status, according to the two NGOs, the Netherlands-based Pax and U.S.-based Sierra Institute that report over 2 million people facing increased risk of death in Syria due to low sustenance, power support, and water across 46 sieged towns, according to AFP.
Quarters barricaded by regime forces:
Regime forces primarily enclose the region around Damascus. The most affected town would be Madaya, located about 40 kilometers northwest of Damascus in the Rif Dimashq Governorate, after Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reporting 46 cases who died of starvation since December 2015.
Other towns in the Rif Dimashq Governorate subjected to regime-instigated blockades are al-Zabadani, Duma, Arbin, Zamalka located in the eastern region of Ghouta, and Muadamiyat al-Sham located in the western region of Ghouta.
Most of the above mentioned towns are controlled by factions, some of which are Islamic. Assad’s regime is accused of using inhumane besiegement methods to force fighters to abandon their arms.
Quarters barricaded by armed fighters:
Armed factions have taken hold on the two Shi’ite towns of Al-Fu’ah and Kafriya administratively part of the Idlib Governorate, located northeast of Idlib. Factions are trying to link the fate of these to pro-regime towns to that of the regime-sieged towns of al-Zabadani and Madaya. They are trying to reach a compromise to let support reach the Shi’ite towns coincidently with support reach Madaya and Al-Zabadani.
Quarters barricaded by ISIS:
Since January 2014, ISIS had entrapped Deir ez-Zor city (carries the same name of its administrative governorate) which is accounted for an approximate 200 thousand inhabitants. Some parts of the governorate are under regime dominance.
The extremist organization imposes its control on most towns of Deir ez-Zor Governorate. The Syrian government was able to dispatch some aid to barricaded city areas through airdrop.
Aid trucks are arriving to several barricaded zones, however, inconsistently. International humanitarian relief organizations confirm that it is insufficient. Convoys comprising of tens of aid trucks carrying food, medicine, and blankets have arrived to Madaya, Al-Fu’ah, and Kafriya a number of times during January.
Despite aid arriving, MSF have reported the death of 16 people in Madaya, mid-January. Support reaching these regions poses a complicated process. Some aid convoys were faced with a last-minute access denial because of specific parties’ changing their stance and the rupturing of clashes.
The U.N., due to aforementioned reasons, was left able to help only a 10 percent of those who fall under the category of “far-reach”, and only a 1 percent of those subjected to blockades.
On Feb.12, the U.N. revealed that the Syrian government has responded to 12 requests out of 116 for humanitarian access granting to barricaded zones.
U.N. Security Council on a number of occasions called in for establishing a safe route and allowing humanitarian aid access unconditionally. The council also requested that all blockades be lifted, regardless of parties responsible, and clearly mentioned it in its most recent resolution 2254.
In Munich, Feb.12, the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), including both the U.S. and Russia demanded an instantaneous civilian-reach aid increase. In response to the appeal, a convoy of a 100 aid trucks will be arriving to barricaded cities on Wednesday.