Women of Syria’s Eastern Ghouta tell of life under siege

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Braving government shelling and mounds of rubble, Um Diab moves between underground shelters, where thousands of Syrians live to escape the constant bombardment in Eastern Ghouta.

Um Diab embodies one of the many roles that women have embraced during the war in Syria. As she walks through the shelters, she helps the wounded and the sick.

As women around the world observe International Women’s Day, Eastern Ghouta’s women are marking the day trapped underground, as they have been for the past 18 days.

Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital, Damascus, has been under control of the armed opposition since 2013.


Home to about 400,000 Syrians, it is one of the last remaining strongholds of rebels still aiming to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

For more than five years, Syrian government forces have laid siege to the area in an attempt to force out the rebels.

With the help of Russia‘s aerial campaign, Syrian forces have intensified their push since February 18: over the past three weeks, more than 900 people have been killed in Eastern Ghouta.

Dubbed “Ghouta’s nurse”, Um Diab, a woman in her forties, has lost her children to Syrian government shelling.

The personal tragedies have pushed her to embrace the cause of those suffering around her in a corner of Syria whose conditions have been described by the UN chief as “hell on earth“.

During her trips between underground shelters, she carries a small bag filled with basic medical supplies.

“I’m in a ghost town. You can only see rubble and death everywhere,” she says in a recent video circulated on social media

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