Shelling Continues In Eastern Ghouta
DON GONYEA, HOST:
Syrian government forces delivered another serious blow today to Eastern Ghouta after government forces seized more ground. This further isolates the Damascus suburb that has been controlled by rebel forces and under siege for five years. Little food can get in. Even fewer people can get out. Over the last two weeks, fighting has intensified. Doctors Without Borders says at least 1,000 people have been killed and another 5,000 wounded. An aid convoy barely managed to make its way in Friday, but the area is now effectively cut off. Yesterday we spoke to Mouaid El Deen, a 29-year-old businessman in the city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta.
MOUAID EL DEEN: The situation here in Eastern Ghouta is very awful, very devastating. From the humanitarian sector to the medical sector, every sector of life is miserable.
GONYEA: Tell us about your home. We can hear noises in the background. I assume those are family members.
EL DEEN: I live with my neighbors and my family in a basement for 22 days.
GONYEA: For 22 days in a basement - and how many people in that basement?
EL DEEN: There are 17, my friend. It's very awful. It's not healthy at all. My daughter had an asthma from this basement. There's no air. There's no light. There's disease. It's not healthy.
GONYEA: Who is with you from your immediate family?
EL DEEN: I have my wife. I have a 3-year-old son - his name is Zeit (ph) - and an 1-year-old daughter. Her name is Sareen (ph) - my mom and my brother's family.
GONYEA: Well, this siege has been going on for four years now - five years. So your children were born in the midst of that?
EL DEEN: Yes, my friend. And let me tell you. It's very, very, very hard to raise a family in this siege. But I didn't find any safe way to get out of Eastern Ghouta. It's my life now. Maybe I can...
(SOUNDBITE OF EXPLOSION)
EL DEEN: Did you hear it, my friend?
GONYEA: Yes, that was...
EL DEEN: That is bombing right now.
GONYEA: And how often is it? Is it constant?
EL DEEN: It's all day long. Believe me, my friend. It's all day long - 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I do not lie to you. Even today, there's convoys from the U.N. - come to Douma city. And still with convoys in Eastern Ghouta in Douma, there's bombing and shelling.
GONYEA: The convoys are carrying humanitarian aid. They come bringing food and other supplies, I presume. Were you able to get to them and get anything from them?
EL DEEN: Yeah, my friend, it's very devastating. There's more important things that the U.N. convoys could bring to Eastern Ghouta. That is the medical department and medical equipment. And that is the most important thing before the food. But the regime prevented to enter Eastern Ghouta. That is very unhuman to do. That is preventing the medical staff to Eastern Ghouta.
GONYEA: And the medical supplies are the things that that, say, your daughter needs?
EL DEEN: That's what I talking about.
GONYEA: Our conversation is punctuated by this bombing. I wonder how your family members react to it - your young children? Are they used to it? It's been their entire life.
EL DEEN: I hope no one can experience what I am feeling right now. When the bombing and shelling in Eastern Ghouta, my children run into the corners and cover their ears. It's very hard feeling for a father. You stand in front of them hopeless and useless to secure them. That is very hard feeling for a father.
GONYEA: I thank you for letting us call you. I hope we can reach out to you again. And we're going to let you go and say goodbye and wish you well - as well as you can be under such circumstances.
EL DEEN: I hope it does end soon, my friend. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.