“Dying once is easier than experiencing death thousands of times every single day” this is how Khaled Almahmoud started describing the tough humanitarian situation in that isolated geographical spot, which has been besieged for months by three different local and international forces.
Rukban camp is an unofficial refugee camp that contains hundreds of displaced Syrian families. It is located in the demilitarized border area between Syria and Jordan as well as near a US force base in the south eastern part of Syria, Al Tanf, on the Iraqi-Syrian borders. Thousands of Syrians living in the camp have escaped from the Islamic State (ISIL) in eastern Syria to find safety for their children in the middle of the desert.
The camp’s trapped residents have been protesting for days, as the camp suffers from severe humanitarian difficulties. Food is running out, most of the water is not suitable for human consumption, medical cases are drastically increasing, while 14 civilians, including children, have died in Rukban camp in the past two weeks, according to the humanitarian response coordination team, as a result of the difficult situation and the lack of medical assistance. The team called on the international community to pressure Russia and the Syrian regime to lift the blockade imposed on the camp, and provide its residents with the necessary assistance.
Local sources told Human Voice that the number of people living in the camp has reached between 50 and 60 thousand, and medical cases, according to reporter Saeed Saif, have exceeded 3 thousand, including men and women; while approximately 1000 children were reported to be in need of medical assistance.
It is worth mentioning that Rukban camp has been under a blockade since last June, after the closure of the passway to Jordan, by Russian pressure, and the closure of Dameer roadway by Assad forces. This reality got even worse when UNICEF closed its only medical clinic in the camp weeks ago, without clarifying any reasons.
According to reporter Saeed Saif’s remarks to Human Voice, chronic diseases are at a very high rate and have reached approximately 1700 cases, of which 150 are in urgent need for entry to a hospital.
The source clarified that the small medical team is finding it difficult to cover this large amount of cases, within very limited capacity.
Another medical source stated that there is a difficulty dealing with birth situations in the camp, especially cesarean cases, which has been placing the lives of women in danger within the past months. In addition, a huge number of children in the camp have not taken the necessary vaccination, while international organizations neglect their responsibility of providing basic medical services.
As for the nutritional situation, the food that is available in the camp is expected to last for another two weeks at best, as assistance to the camp has stopped 9 months ago, which caused the death of several children due to malnutrition. Some sources indicated that Jordan did not respond to humanitarian demands asking to carry urgent medical cases into Jordan where they can receive humanitarian assistance, amid international neglect to the danger that’s threatening the lives of almost 65 thousand civilians, according to the same sources.
It is worth mentioning that the Jordanian authorities have closed Jordan’s borders with Syria in June 2016, declaring the area a military zone, after a suicide attack adopted by ISIL targeted a border military base near Rukban camp causing the death of 7 members of the Jordanian army and the injury of 13 others.
For its part, UNICEF called for allowing the access of medical services to thousands of Syrians trapped in Rukban camp on the Jordanian Syrian borders.
UNICEF’s regional director for MENA, Geert Cappelaere, said in a statement on Wednesday “once again, UNICEF appeals to all parties to the conflict in Syria and those who have influence over them, to allow and facilitate access to basic services including health for children and families.” adding that “in the past 48 hours, a five-day-old boy and a four-month-old girl died in Rukban, near Jordan’s north-eastern border with Syria, where they were without access to a hospital.”
It is worth mentioning that the 25th article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
This human rights article has been produced with the support of Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), and Donner Canadian Foundation.