Residents of eastern Ghouta were trapped for five years, but now they’re forced to leave. This is what they had to say before leaving their homes.

“In the depth of the underground with kids, youth, and men. The war gathered us.  This is a picture that I don’t know if it would be a memory that we will talk about in future,” says a photographer from Douma, eastern Ghouta Abu Alhasan says. March19, 2018
“In the depth of the underground with kids, youth, and men. The war gathered us. This is a picture that I don’t know if it would be a memory that we will talk about in future,” says a photographer from Douma, eastern Ghouta Abu Alhasan says. March19, 2018 (Abu AlHasan / Yawmiyat Doumanya)

Thousands of Syrian residents have been forced out of their homes in Syria’s eastern Ghouta to the tent camps in Idlib in the north. The mass evacuation began on March 22, after weeks of intense aerial bombardment that caused more than 1,500 deaths. Syrian regime ally Russia brokered a deal between two of the opposition groups controlling the area to surrender, and to leave the enclave with civilian residents. 

Russia guaranteed that the civilians and fighters who wanted to stay in the areas would be protected from the Syrian regime’s persecution and the others would be safely evacuated.

But as the air strikes continue in the areas, the civilians feel it’s not safe to stay in Ghouta, saying the evacuation is rather a forced displacement. 

For five years, a Syrian regime siege hugely limited access to basic necessities including food and healthcare in Ghouta, and blocked exits of the area. 

  • Many of them are upset to leave their homes now, even though most of the residential areas have been destroyed by the regime and Russian air strikes.
  • Everyone bid their farewells in different ways. Some took last pictures in front of their homes - which are now simply rubble, some sang their grief. 

من داخل قلعة الصمود #حي_جوبر_الدمشقي والجولة الآخيرة قبل المفارقة 😔مع صديقي ربيع الشامي.

Posted by ‎حسام صفصف‎ on Tuesday, March 27, 2018
  • The right to return for the people of eastern Ghouta is not guaranteed. For many, leaving eastern Ghouta also means leaving the people they lost during the war.

    "Goodbye Ghouta. Goodbye, my homeland. Goodbye, my father. When I miss you, I won't be able to visit your grave again. I did my best to stay close to you, but my fate wanted me to stay away from you, and I won't even be able to stand in front of your grave," Qusay Noor, a photojournalist from eastern Ghouta said. 
  • Evacuation isn't easy. To reach Idlib, they need to wait for long hours and pass through checkpoints. 
  • Tweets said Syrian regime forces detaining some of the men who were evacuated.
  • Douma was the only town which hasn’t had any agreements, as the rebel group controlling the area was bargaining for an agreement to stay in the town under regime rule. Waiting for their fate to be decided, people in Douma were hiding in underground shelters.

جلسة تذكارية ... لكن في عمق الارض مع اطفال و شباب ورجال جمعتنا الحرب .. صورة لا اعلم ان كانت ستكون يوم ما ذكرى...

Posted by ‎يوميات دومانية‎ on Monday, March 19, 2018
  • Russia says they reached an agreement in Douma, but the civilians there reacted, saying they want to stay until the end. 
Source: TRT World