UN to deliver aid to Syrians trapped near Jordan border
The UN said yesterday it was organising a joint aid convoy with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to tens of thousands of Syrians stranded in the desert near the Jordanian border.
The world body said the convoy would deliver “humanitarian assistance to an estimated 50,000 women, children and men who are stranded at the Rukban camp in southeast Syria near the Iraqi and Jordanian border”.
“The overall humanitarian situation inside the Rukban camp is at a critical stage,” said Ali al-Za’tari, the UN’s top official in Damascus.
Linda Tom, a spokeswoman for the UN’s humanitarian coordination office, OCHA, told AFP the world body was “deeply concerned over the deteriorating humanitarian situation” at the camp.
A suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group in June 2016 killed seven Jordanian soldiers in no-man’s land near the nearby Rukban crossing.
Soon afterwards, the army declared Jordan’s desert regions that stretch northeast to Syria and east to Iraq “closed military zones”.
The kingdom, part of the US-led coalition fighting IS, has allowed several humanitarian aid deliveries to the area following UN requests, but the borders remain closed.
The camp, home to displaced people from across Syria, also lies close to the Al-Tanf base used by the US-led coalition fighting IS.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the camp suffers from a severe lack of food and medicines, compounded by its remote desert location, the closure of the Jordanian border and regime forces cutting off all roads to it.
The last delivery of UN aid to Rukban took place in January 2018 through Jordan.
The UN children’s agency Unicef last week urged warring parties in Syria to allow basic health service deliveries to the camp, saying two babies without access to hospitals had died there within 48 hours.