UN: Child evacuees being used as bargaining chips in Syria
The UN has expressed concern that critically ill children awaiting evacuation from a rebel-controlled area besieged by Syrian government forces in the Eastern Ghouta district are being treated as bargaining chips.
UN special envoy to Syria Jan Egeland believes that rebel forces had agreed to release government workers to ensure the evacuation of the children.
Around 400,000 people are under siege in the district.
Syrian government-rebels agree to evacuate critically ill children
Syrian government and rebels agreed to prisoners' exchange
The Eastern Ghouta district, controlled by rebel group Jaish Al-Islam, has been besieged since 2013.
Recently, the Jaish Al-Islam agreed to release 29 Syrian government prisoners for 29 critically ill patients, of whom 18 are children.
Four patients were taken to Damascus on Wednesday while the remaining will be escorted out in subsequent days.
Overall, 641 people in Eastern Ghouta need urgent medical care.
Evacuees suffering aliments such as cancer, kidney failure
The list of evacuees "includes 18 children and four women suffering from heart disease, cancer, kidney failure, and blood diseases, in addition to cases requiring advanced surgery that are not available in the besieged area," according to the Syrian American Medical Society aid group.
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Six-month-old baby dies before evacuation
In a heart-breaking moment, a six-month-old baby girl who was on the list of evacuees died before she could be transferred to a hospital in Damascus.
Meanwhile, another patient refused to be evacuated, fearing that the President Bashar al-Assad regime would arrest him despite the government giving the patient' safety guarantees.
The Eastern Ghouta district has faced severe shortages of medical supplies.