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The scale of suffering across Syria
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/syria> has reached unprecedented levels,
with access to aid blocked in three major population centres, growing
displacement and more than 13 million people in need across the country,
the UN has said.

The organisation called on Tuesday for a one-month ceasefire to ease what
it described as an “extreme situation” that “we haven’t seen before” at any
point during the war, which is soon to enter its eighth year. The conflict
has been marked by a mass exodus of Syrian citizens, sieges, starvation and
a death toll that surpassed 500,000 people in 2016.

The UN’s assistant secretary general and humanitarian coordinator in Syria,
Panos Moumtzis, said the organisation had been almost powerless to respond
to a “dramatic deterioration in the humanitarian situation” over the past
two months in particular, when access to people in opposition areas had
been blocked by Syrian government officials.

The siege had been most acute in East Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus,
where 400,000 people – 94% of all those under regime blockade – have not
received deliveries of food, water or medicine since late November. Ghouta,
an opposition stronghold throughout the conflict, has been heavily bombed
by Russian and Syrian jets for the past month, as both allies attempt to
press home their recent gains elsewhere.
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