Disastrous situation in Al-Rukban camp | Activists express their solidarity with the camp’s inhabitants, while displaced people tell off their sufferings
Since the beginning of summer, nearly 8,500 displaced people living in Al-Rukban camp which is located near the Syria-Iraq-Jordan border triangle have been suffering from a stifling crisis manifested in the acute lack of water. UNICEF had issued a decision decreasing water allowances pumped to Al-Rakban camp, which badly affected inhabitants, especially with the extreme high temperatures which exceed 45 degrees Celsius.
Attempting to highlight the sufferings of the camp’s inhabitants and attract the international community’s attention to provide needed food and water assistance, social media activists have launched a campaign under Hashtag #Save_Al_Rukban_Camp. Thousands of activists on social media have already taken part in the campaign and published pictures and posts showing and describing the dreadful living conditions in the camp in light of the siege imposed by regime forces and Iranian-backed militias which are still following measures designed to starving the camp’s inhabitants to force them to return to regime-controlled areas.
Meanwhile, many civilians in north Syria reacted with the reports about the situation in Al-Rukban camp, which described the tragedy in light of the acute lack of water which threatens the lives of displaced people living there. On August 5, tens of residents from Al-Bab city staged a demonstration expressing their solidarity with the inhabitants of Al-Rukban camp. The protestors lifted placards with slogans written on them, which read “save Al-Rukban camp – Do not be partners of the crime – Russia and Iran kill over ten thousand people in Al-Rukban camp.”
Speaking to SOHR, an activist known by his initials as M. A. living in north Idlib countryside says, “the catastrophic situation of thousands of displaced people besieged in Al-Rukban camp have to be highlighted, as the conditions of these people have deteriorated sharply since regime forces and their proxy militias imposed a strict siege on the camp, as well as the closure of Jordanian border, as the Jordanian government has decided to abandon its responsibilities towards these poor and helpless people. As water is the most vital element of livelihood, the lack of water poses a sever threat to the safety and lives of thousands of people in Al-Rukban camp. International authorities and organisations must find workable solutions for the cause of Al-Rukban camp as soon as possible, as life has become impossible in a barren desert with no natural resources enable people to live. Water must be secured in sufficient amount for all families, while access of food and medicine must be allowed. Also, patients must be transport to hospital or clinics outside the camp, so that they can receive appropriate treatment.”
“The situation in Al-Rukban camp is even harsher that those camps in north Syria region, as the camp is near regime-controlled areas, besieged almost completely and located in a desert which is not suitable for living. These displaced people, who fled from the oppression of the Syrian regime and ISIS, do not pose a threat to the international community, so we have to draw attention and highlight this important issue. Although the current online campaign is important, it is not enough to bring the people’s tragedy in Al-Rukban camp to an end. All major and influential powers should work on securing urgent assistance and essentials, as well as allowing humanitarian organisations to access to the camp to provide support. Moreover, the Jordanian government and UNICEF must resume pumping water in sufficient amount,” adds the activist.
UNECIF started pumping water to Al-Rukban camp five years ago, when it dug a well and established a purification station in Jordanian territory, nearly 13 kilometres away from the camp. However, the international organisation has started to decrease water allowances pumped to the camp since the beginning of summer, although the amount of water which had delivered to the camp covered only 70% of the needs of the camp’s inhabitants.
On the other hand, a displaced woman in Al-Rukban camp known as A. S. has told SOHR that securing water have become the most major challenge facing the camp’s inhabitants, where her trip to secure water to her family starts in the early hours of every new day. The woman clarified that two people of every family have nothing to do but bringing water to their families, as they have to transport water every day to the camp using carts and trolley boxes.
Another displaced woman in Al-Rukban camp known as A. M. has told SOHR that water which is transported in tanks to the camp by trucks or animal carts are usually polluted because of the dirty tanks, which contributed to spreading diseases and infections, especially among children, mostly suffer from diarrhea.
A displaced man known by his initials as A. A. from Al-Rukban camp says, “when my family need water, we feel as if we are in a state of mobilisation. I go to the place where water is provided at 06:00 am, and I have to wait to 01:00 pm until I can get an amount of water. When I return to the camp, my family feel great joy. This is only one example of the sufferings of the camp’s inhabitants.”
On August 5, SOHR activists in Al-Rukban camp documented the death of a six-month-old boy because of fever in light of the lack of medicine in the camp.
Speaking to SOHR, the baby’s father who is from Palmyra city said that his son had fever and diarrhea, while his families failed to lower his body temperature using compresses only, in light of the lack of medicines in the camp.
The father said that he could not take his son to hospitals or clinics outside the camp because of his dire living conditions, where a driver asked the father to give him 800 USD to drive his son out of the camp, but the father failed to secure the money.
In Late July, SOHR sources in Al-Rukban camp in the Syrian desert near the eastern border with Jordan and Iraq reported that the Jordanian government and UNICEF reduced water allowances provided to displaced people in the camp. This coincided with appeals by the camp’s inhabitants to Jordan to increase water allowances in light of the high temperatures and dreadful living conditions of the inhabitants of the camp which has been turned into a “grand prison” with nearly 8,500 displaced Syrian people from different provinces living there.
According to SOHR sources, 13 families, five young men and two children left Al-Rukban camp in July.