Thank you all for having us.
I will start by giving you a brief description of the situation on the ground, and then Dr. Al-Kassem will talk about some testimonies from the ground.
To give you a geographic description of the area, Ghouta is a suburb of Damascus. It's about 30 kilometres in diameter, with a population of almost 400,000. Eastern Ghouta has been under siege for the last four and a half years, with about 13,000 civilians killed since the uprising started in Syria. The death toll has increased sharply in the last 10 days, since the chemical attacks on Ghouta. In the last 10 days, we have seen about 600 people killed. Today, as we speak, I got the message that about 20 people have been killed up until now.
We have about 2,300 people injured. The weapons that have been used on those people range from shelling with missiles to some prohibited weapons like napalm, and chemical weapons were used once a couple of days ago.
From a medical perspective, since February 19, there have been about 33 attacks on 30 medical facilities. I provided earlier a couple of pages of documents with the names of the facilities that have been hit. Some of those facilities have been hit twice. We have had about 33 attacks on those facilities. We have at least six medical workers who have been killed in those attacks, and about 15 others injured.
To give you another description of the medical situation on the ground, we have only 110 doctors left. Among those are 40 medical students. Some of them are doctors, dentists, or nurses performing surgeries on people. We have only one neurosurgeon left, and only two vascular surgeons in the region. Again, as a reminder, they are serving about 400,000 people.
For the last 14 months at least, no medical supplies have entered Ghouta at all. We currently have about 1,200 cancer patients who have no medications, and there is no way of treating those patients.
I want to bring to your attention one important fact about the situation and how the civilians have been hit in this area. If you look at the tables I provided earlier, you'll see that the first table is from the Syrian interim government. It shows the deaths divided by gender and by age. For gender, we can see that the number of deaths for women and kids combined is about 270. It's almost equal to the number for men. If the government forces claim that they are hitting militants on the ground, there is no reason to see so many kids and women being killed. It has been consistent that the regime's way of dealing with the situation is capital punishment, punishing families and hitting civilians in their homes.
With the amount of shelling that has happened in the last 10 days, we should see a higher number of deaths. However, it has been a little less because of people taking shelter underground, basically in dungeons or basements, trying to hide from the shelling. With people hiding in those areas, there are inhumane conditions, high humidity and insufficient air ventilation. They have been suffering and having a hard time getting food and water into those areas.
I have talked to many people on the ground there. What they need is for this shelling or bombing of their homes to stop and for access to open for humanitarian aid to start accessing the area.
I want to conclude with one statement. What is unique about the situation in Syria, Ghouta specifically, is that we're witnessing a live genocide. It is happening live, with video images, with testimonies. The whole world is watching and not able to do anything. What is also unique about this genocide is that it is not an ethnic genocide; it is more of an ideological genocide. People have been punished and killed because they oppose the government and they are not really listening to it.
Again, we call for protection. There are no foreign fighters there. I know for a fact, from talking to medical staff on the ground, that it is more local people on the ground there.
I will now give the mike to Dr. Al-Kassem to get some personal testimonies from people on the record.