Desperate conditions for displaced people in Syria as weather conditions worsen

Mothers shielding their children from the harsh weather conditions in Rukban Mothers shielding their children from the harsh weather conditions in Rukban AFP 2018 / KHALIL MAZRAAWI

19 January 2019

The struggle of those stranded in Rukban is not new, however, the harsh winter conditions and lack of humanitarian aid have made the situation much worse.

Conditions in the remote area of Rukban, a provisional refugee camp at the  Syrian/Jordanian border, are becoming “increasingly desperate” as extreme weather conditions prevail.  A United Nations official warned that the circumstances “have become a matter of life and death” after eight children, most of them under the age of one, had died due to extreme cold and lack of medical care.

The majority of the inhabitants of the camp are women and children who have fled from Russian and United States-led airstrikes against areas held by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) in central and eastern Syria. Most of the occupants of the camp have been confined there for more than two years after Jordan closed down its borders with Syria at Rukban amid security concerns. Closing the border has devastated the area as Jordan used to welcome refugees from several border crossing points located along their border with Syria. Since the shutdown, tens of thousands of Syrians have arrived at the camp which put considerable strain to the border area.

World Food Programme (WFP) spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel lamented a warning from United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)  calling for, “ a second inter-agency convoy with critical assistance to take place as soon as possible”, urging “all parties to ensure safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to people in need, in line with their obligations under international humanitarian law”. Under the current harsh conditions with limited access to humanitarian aid,to on-site doctors and other necessary services, the camp area and the people hosted will only further deteriorate as winter sets in. The last time the United Nations had access to Rubkan was in November 2018, where an inter-agency convoy, alongside the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, delivered food, medical supplies and other assistance. The need for additional assistance in Rukban is beyond urgent.



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