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Thousands trapped in besieged Khan Eshieh camp in Syria

Around 12,000 people, including 3,000 children, under siege by government forces with little food or medicine, says NGO.

Khan Eshieh

A siege on a refugee camp in Syria has left about 12,000 people - including 3,000 children - without enough food or medicine as government forces target the area with rockets and snipers, an aid group said.

Save The Children said on Friday that the last remaining open road out of Khan Eshieh, a Palestinian refugee camp near the Syrian capital Damascus, was shut this week as bombing intensified, with dozens of barrel bombs being dropped on the area.

The government did not immediately respond to the report.

"Despite the supposed ceasefire across the country, people are living in terror of siege and bombardment," Sonia Khush, the head of Save the Children's Syria programme, said.

"People in Khan Eshieh tell us that most medicine, fuel and flour has almost run out, and food prices have doubled in the past few days. They expect it to get even worse in the coming days. The roads and access to the camp must urgently be reopened and vital humanitarian aid immediately allowed in."

Save the Children said that three youths were reportedly shot dead trying to escape the camp.

Only one doctor and one dentist are believed to remain in the camp, and they do not have enough medicine, equipment and electricity to treat patients, it said.

According to the Jafra Foundation, which provides aid in the camp, civilians were able to use one road - known locally as 'the Death Road' due to the high risk of travelling on it - to get food, medicine and supplies from the nearby town of Zakia.

But, it said, in recent weeks medicine has been prevented from entering Zakia and the road has now been closed.

Khan Eshieh has been partially besieged for nearly three years, with all the main roads between the camp and Damascus closed since 2013 and military checkpoints around the camp to prevent people from entering and leaving.

Across Syria, an estimated 1.9 million people live in besieged areas, according to the aid group Doctors Without Borders.

On Thursday, an aid convoy was refused entry to Daraya, a city besieged for four years by government forces.

The convoy - organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the United Nations in Syria - was refused entry at the last government checkpoint near the city.

Shortly afterwards, government shelling killed a father and son waiting for aid.

"Communities in Daraya are in need of everything, and it's tragic that even the basics we were bringing today are being delayed unnecessarily. We must be able to provide aid impartially and safely," Marianne Gasser, head of the ICRC in Syria said.

According to the United Nations, more than 250,000 people have been killed and millions have fled the country since the war erupted in 2011.


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