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.
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.
This is the last video I took yesterday just Watch and you will Know what we have seen and what we have suffered and all of you have left us #alone#EastGhouta— Oways Alshami (@OwaysAlshami) March 23, 2018
See you in another life#NourAdam pic.twitter.com/HDKmQ8v7QO
- 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.
- 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.
وداعاً يا غوطة— قصي نور (@QUSAY_NOOR_) March 28, 2018
وداعاً يا بلدي
وداعاً يا ابي عندما اشتاق اليك لن استطيع زيارة قبرك مجددا سامحني بذلت ما بوسعي للبقاء قريبا منك لكن شاء القدر ان ابتعد عنك ولن استطيع حتى الوقوف امام قبرك #وداعاً_يا_غوطة pic.twitter.com/U7k7JBgI1T
- Evacuation isn't easy. To reach Idlib, they need to wait for long hours and pass through checkpoints.
This is last photo while we are leaving the #Ghouta to edlep— muhammad najem (@muhammadnajem20) March 28, 2018
The road was so difficult
I was afraid when we passed through the #Russian #Checkpoint
We arrive after 30 hours ... pic.twitter.com/ApSkoh9qFu
- 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.
- Russia says they reached an agreement in Douma, but the civilians there reacted, saying they want to stay until the end.
بعد القوة المفرطة التي تعرض لها سكان الغوطة الشرقية لدمشق وعمليه الإبادة الجماعيه لهم من قبل النظام الأسدي والروسي والأيراني ومرتزقة الأرض كافه ومن أقبية الظلام وتحت القصف يعلنون رفض التهجير وتمسكهم بأرضهم حتى أخر نقطة من دمائهم pic.twitter.com/TLSJHo9lml— مها الصالح (@IYpMUFeflDwW8vA) February 28, 2018