By Fatih Erel
The UN on Thursday urged an evacuation of sick and malnourished civilians from the Eastern Ghouta, Syria, where he said 400,000 face "complete catastrophe."
"I feel as if we are now returning to some of the bleakest days of the conflict again," Jan Egeland, special advisor to the UN special envoy for Syria, told a press conference in Geneva after the meeting of the International Syria Support Group's Humanitarian Access Task Force.
"We have had a period of de-escalation in many areas. It helped a lot in terms of less displacement, less killings," Egeland said of recent reports of attacks against civilians and displacement of civilians in Idlib, Aleppo, Raqqa and Hama.
Pointing to the need for medical evacuation, Egeland said, "There are now a growing number of acutely malnourished children. If you are acutely malnourished, you are very close to dying."
"Nowhere is as bad as in Eastern Ghouta," he said.
Seven people recently died because they were not evacuated, said Egeland, adding, "29 cases that are the most critical cases, they will die if they will not be evacuated, they include 18 children.
"They all have urgent need to be evacuated now. We are not still getting permission to do these evacuations even though everything is ready."
Egeland said the civilians in Eastern Ghouta face "complete catastrophe."
"What l really cannot understand is that why these people cannot be evacuated ... What about a cease-fire in this area and a green light to all medical evacuations?" he asked.
About 500,000 people live in besieged areas while 2.9 million people live in hard-to-reach areas in Syria, said Egeland, adding that the numbers have been falling as the Daesh terrorist group controls less of the country.