February 22, 2018 / 12:28 PM / 10 months ago

Syrian civilians experience violence, destruction twice each week - survey

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Syrians experience violence and destruction twice each week on average, an aid agency said on Thursday, highlighting the ongoing plight of civilians as the country’s bloody civil war approaches its eighth year.

The research, conducted by the charity Mercy Corps, surveyed 1,600 people in more than 120 communities across Syria.

The survey, which was backed by the British government, found that civilians experienced about two conflict-related incidents per week in the prior year, some causing injury or death and others razing homes, schools, clinics and mosques.

The reality in south-central Syria, where most besieged areas lie, was particularly grim, with residents experiencing about three such incidents per week, according to the survey.

Those communities saw an average of 65 civilians killed, 25 homes razed, and more than five community spaces destroyed over the previous year.

“Since the beginning of the year, the situation in some parts of Syria has really deteriorated,” Ingy Sedky, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Syria, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Some families have stopped sending their children to schools because it’s not safe anymore. So there is this kind of insecurity among residents.”

In a fresh surge of violence, government air strikes on the rebel-held eastern Ghouta area near Damascus have killed more than 300 people, including children, since Sunday night.

The United Nations Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura called for a truce, and aid agencies have sought humanitarian access to those trapped by the bombardment.

The civil war has also left many Syrians across the country vulnerable to food shortages and displacement, the report said.

About half of those surveyed described not having food in the house at least once in the past month, while a fifth said one or more members of their household had gone to bed hungry.

On average, internally displaced Syrians reported having moved almost 4 times since the start of the war.

More than 6 million people are uprooted within Syria.

Alistair Burt, Britain’s Middle East minister, said the UK was providing an emergency aid package of up to 15 million pounds ($21 million) to bring clean water to 575,000 people in Idlib, where violence has also intensified in recent weeks.

“As the brutal conflict enters its eighth year, this important report lays bare the horrific reality of daily life in Syria,” Burt said in a statement.

Reporting by Ana Ionova. Editing by Robert Carmichael. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit www.trust.org

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