22 February 2018 - The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is profoundly concerned by the violence being visited upon the civilian populations of Damascus and the Eastern Ghouta area in Syria. Reliable reports indicate that major roads, bakeries, and food warehouses have been targeted in Eastern Ghouta, and that several hospitals have also been hit. Damascus has come under fire from anti-government forces, with all neighborhoods hit with mortar shells. In and around Damascus, hundreds have died, many more have been injured, and thousands of people are living in terror under threat of further bombardment. JRS appeals for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and for the lives of non-combatants to be respected and protected. The international community must not continue to view the carnage with indifference, or regard this as just another ordinary week in the Syrian conflict.
The situation on the ground is catastrophic. In Damascus, JRS staff are reporting that many people are fleeing the city for the countryside. For the residents of Damascus and Eastern Ghouta, the threat of death or serious injury is a constant companion. One JRS staff member said, “Death is falling from sky…and we are powerless to stop it.”
A JRS staff member was injured on Monday 20th February by shrapnel from a missile, and another JRS staff member’s house was hit by a mortar shell. The current situation has made it impossible to keep the JRS centres in Damascus open, and staff are working as best they can from their homes.