UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on Friday described the suffering of civilians in Eastern Ghouta as an appalling example of the human tragedy resulting from the conflict in Syria, which has now been raging for seven years.

“The choice of the people in Ghouta is either to get out – and they don’t know what’s happening when they get out of Ghouta – or to stay and be under the bombs,” he told a news conference in the Lebanese capital Beirut. “How much worse can it get for any human being? It is truly appalling, and a symbol of how catastrophic this conflict has become for the civilians.”

Grandi told reporters that aid from a UN and Red Cross convoy that was forced to leave Ghouta on Monday before it could unload completely had re-entered the besieged enclave on Friday to deliver the remaining supplies.

The High Commissioner was speaking at the end of a three-day visit to Lebanon, which hosts more refugees per capita than any country in the world. With close to a million registered refugees from the conflict next door, Syrians account for roughly a quarter of the country’s population.

Grandi paid tribute to Lebanon’s people and government for offering sanctuary and opening its schools, hospitals and services to Syrians for so many years. He acknowledged the strain that such an effort had put on the country’s economy and local communities, and called on international donors to do even more to support refugees and their hosts in the region.

Without a political solution in Syria, the ongoing violence and uncertainty meant it was premature to expect refugees to return home in large numbers. “Syrians are saying ‘we want to go back eventually to Syria, but almost all of them say not right now,” he said, adding: “We need to continue to prepare eventually for that return, and we’re doing a lot of work in Syria itself to prepare for that.”

Source: National News Agency