Humanitarian officials say the siege on Eastern Ghouta has trapped close to 400,000 people without enough food, fuel or medicine for the winter. (Hussam AlSaleh/WFP via AP)
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As the government and its opponents wrap up another fruitless round of talks in Geneva, humanitarian officials warn conditions outside Damascus have reached crisis levels, with the government maintaining a siege on the Eastern Ghouta suburbs that has trapped close to 400,000 people without enough food, fuel or medicine for the winter.According to the U.N., roughly one in eight children are malnourished in Eastern Ghouta – a shocking jump from one in 50 in May.A top U.N. humanitarian official for Syria, Jan Egeland, said last week the government is refusing to allow convoys in. The tactic has proven brutally effective for the government, which in the last two years has managed to recapture a constellation of towns around Damascus using the same playbook. In Zabadani and Daraya, the government executed its strategy so completely that it managed to completely depopulate the two towns, which had a combined population of about 100,000 people before the war. Egeland said last week that 12 people have died waiting for medical evacuation from Eastern Ghouta. They were on a U.N.-drawn list first submitted six months ago that has yet to be approved by the government, and now contains 494 names. Food in Eastern Ghouta at one point was up to 85 times more expensive than in Damascus, just a few minutes' drive away, according to the WFP.
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