Civilians in Erbin, one of Eastern Ghouta’s besieged communities, live with no water, electricity or public services.
The war in Syria, which has surpassed its sixth year and brought along with it life-threatening sieges to many areas, has pushed people to find innovative ways to adapt to the difficulties facing their daily lives.
Living under siege means being cut off from essential supplies such as food, water and healthcare, when military forces surround a town or area with the aim of pressuring those inside to surrender. Civilians in besieged areas are denied freedom of movement and are often caught in the crossfire.
The UN estimates that there are at least 13.5 million people who require humanitarian assistance, including 4.6 million people in need trapped in besieged and hard-to-reach areas in Syria, where they are exposed to grave protection threats.
At least 643,780 civilians are living in 13 besieged locations, according to the UN.
Residents of Erbin, in Eastern Ghouta, have resorted to inventing new methods, using homemade tools, to compensate for the severe shortage of basic energy resources of which they have been deprived for years.
Eastern Ghouta is one of the three cordons around the Syrian capital, Damascus. The area, which lies in the northern suburbs of the capital, has been partially besieged by the Syrian government since 2013.
It has an estimated population of 400,000, according to a report by Netherlands-based Siege Watch.
In 2013, the Syrian government banned civilians from going into or out of the enclave, allowing only some food deliveries to be received or sold.
Residents have created these new methods to secure and provide electricity, diesel, petrol and gas – rare resources that are expensive even if found.
A famous proverb in Arabic, familiar to many Syrians, has come to depict the situation in Eastern Ghouta: (Al haaja um al ikhtira’) meaning “necessity is the mother of invention” in English.
Erbin is one of the 22 communities located in Eastern Ghouta. The town’s civilians, markets, hospitals and schools have repeatedly come under Russian and Syrian air attacks.
Erbin has been a stronghold for several major rebel groups, including Jaish al-Islam, al-Rahman Corps and al-Qaeda-linked Levant Liberation Committee (Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham) during much of conflict.