Human Rights

Egypt to fly 7 citizens home from Syrian camps



Workers distribute iftar meals to impoverished families, who fled their homes in the former opposition enclave of Eastern Ghouta, at a school in Idlib on May 19th. [Omar Haj Kadour/AFP]

The Egyptian foreign ministry on Saturday (May 26th) announced that its embassy in Syria had been able to get seven Egyptian citizens out of shelters in areas now controlled by the Syrian regime.

The embassy said it had co-operated with the Syrian authorities to secure their release from the camps where thousands of civilians fleeing the former opposition enclave of Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus are now staying.

One Egyptian citizen was able to leave one of the shelters on Saturday, while another Egyptian, his mother, his sister, and his Syrian wife and children were able to leave another shelter the same day.

The ministry said preparations were under way to fly them home.

The embassy was able to rescue another Egyptian family "from the area of military operations in Ghouta a few weeks ago", the ministry said.

The seven Egyptian citizens were taken on Sunday from the camps to the Egyptian embassy in Damascus, Egypt's Ahram Online reported.

Egyptian officials in Damascus are taking all necessary measures to help all Egyptian citizens return safely to Egypt, according to the charge d'affaires of the Egyptian embassy in Damascus, Mohamed Tharwat Salim.

Exodus from Eastern Ghouta

The Syrian regime used military pressure and population transfers to flush fighters and civilians out of territory around Damascus, notably Eastern Ghouta.

The assault on Eastern Ghouta has sparked a mass exodus from the shrinking opposition enclave, with 50,000 people reaching shelters in regime-controlled areas in the past week, according to the UN.

The UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Syria in March condemned the "tragic" living conditions of the displaced massed in the makeshift shelters.

Prior to the assault, Eastern Ghouta's 400,000 residents had suffered five years of crippling regime siege that made food and medicine nearly impossible to access or afford.

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