On March 15th, over 100,000 Syrians fled Eastern Ghouta - a rebel-held area near Damascus - due to Assad’s advances. Since February, the Syrian president and his Russian allies have been actively defying the UN’s call for a ceasefire through incendiary bombs and chlorine gas on civilian populations. The president has denied any use of illegal weapons, and he stated that the air campaigns were a necessary measure for removing Islamist strongholds. A negotiated withdrawal will help to relocate 7,000 inhabitants from towns in Arbin and Zamalka to northwestern parts of the country, resulting in a loss of 90% of the territory to pro-government forces. As shown in the video below, doctors and relief organizations are struggling to address this exodus, which marks one of the largest evacuations of the Syrian war.
This month, Jordan has made numerous changes to refugee urban lifestyle. Earlier in March, administrators had decided to pass legislation to protect refugees from unlawful arrest and open education opportunities. However, they have also chosen to revoke Syrians’ access to subsidized healthcare, and an estimated 50,000 urban Syrians will be forced to pay the same rates as foreigners. Though the country has not provided a rationale for this recent shift, the government had spent approximately $2.1 billion US dollars on refugee health services, thus straining the nation’s economy. Bill Van Esvald, a researcher for the Human Rights Watch, states that “Jordan and its international donors should not undermine these improvements by pulling the rug out from under refugees on health care that families are already struggling to afford.”
"HRW Slams Jordan Halt of Healthcare Subsidies for Syria Refugees." TheSundaily. March 25, 2018. Accessed March 25, 2018. http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2018/03/25/hrw-slams-jordan-halt-healthcare-subsidies-syria-refugees.
Karadsheh, Jomana. "More than 10,000 People Flee Eastern Ghouta." CNN. March 15, 2018. Accessed March 25, 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/15/middleeast/eastern-ghouta-civilians-flee-exodus-intl/index.html.
"Syrians Await New Evacuations from Eastern Ghouta." RTE.ie. March 25, 2018. Accessed March 25, 2018. https://www.rte.ie/news/world/2018/0325/949917-981-people-including-rebels-evacuated-from-ghouta/.