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Conjoined twins born in Syria's besieged Ghouta need urgent evacuation

Evacuating Moaz and Nawars is difficult amid siege imposed by government forces
Picture shows twins, Moaz and Nawars, conjoined at chest (screenshot)

A graphic picture of conjoined twins in Eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held area just outside Damascus that is under siege by government forces, has circulated online, prompting calls for their immediate evacuation.

The picture shows the twins, Moaz and Nawars, conjoined at the chest, with protruding intestines.

Mohamad Katoub, an advocacy manager at the Syrian Americans Medical Society (SAMS) and the person who first tweeted the photo, told Middle East Eye he was alerted to the twins' condition three days ago.

"A doctor called me three days ago, and said we have to try to evacuate these kids. I am trying to find any avenue.

"The medical equipment they have is not good enough. [The hospital] asked for help for those two boys, to evacuate them. I called my board members and president and am trying to work on evacuating them," he said.

However, Katoub's pleas for help have not yet proven successful. He first asked his colleagues for help, but now has resorted to a social media campaign.

"The only thing I can do is publish the photo. I tried talking to everyone. I asked my colleagues for permission to use the photo and start the social media campaign. I asked permission from the parents – and talked to the father by Whatsapp. He said please go ahead and use the photo."

The father told Katoub that his twins desperately need to leave Syria.

"The father told me, 'They need treatment, they need surgery,'” Katoub said.

Unfortunately for the twins, who were born on 23 July, the government siege is preventing their evacuation.

"It's very difficult to evacuate medical patients from besieged areas," Katoub said.

The UN says that more than 400,000 people are living under siege in Syria, most of them in areas encircled by government forces. 

Siege Watch, an independent monitoring network, has put the total number of Syrians besieged at more than one million, while the NGO Doctors Without Borders says it is closer to two million. 

Syria's conflict has killed more than 270,000 people and displaced millions since it erupted amid the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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