Their food blocked, plight of Syr­i­ans stranded on Jor­dan bor­der wors­ens

Financial Chronicle - - AROUND THE GLOBE -

THOU­SANDS of Syr­i­ans stranded on Jor­dan’s bor­der with Syria are run­ning out of food as routes lead­ing to their camp are closed by the Syr­ian army and Jor­dan is block­ing aid de­liv­er­ies, re­lief work­ers and refugees said on Thurs­day.

The Syr­ian army has tight­ened its siege of the camp, in Ruk­ban, near the north­east­ern Jor­da­nian bor­der with Syria and Iraq, pre­vent­ing smug­glers and traders from de­liv­er­ing food to its 50,000 in­hab­i­tants, mostly women and chil­dren. “More than a week ago the Syr­ian regime cut all the routes of sup­plies to­wards the camp. There are now only very small amounts of food that smug­glers bring,” Abu Ab­dul­lah, the head of the civil af­fairs coun­cil that runs the camp, told Reuters.

“The camp is a bal­loon that could ex­plode at any mo­ment be­cause of hunger, sick­ness and lack of aid ... if the sit­u­a­tion con­tin­ues like this there will be real star­va­tion,” he added by phone. In the last three years, tens of thou­sands of peo­ple have fled to the camp from Is­lamic State-held parts of Syria that were be­ing tar­geted by Rus­sian and USled coali­tion air strikes.

Ruk­ban is lo­cated near a US gar­ri­son in south­east­ern Syria at Tanf on the Iraqi-Syr­ian bor­der. The camp falls within a so­called de­con­flic­tion zone set up by the Pen­tagon with the aim of shield­ing the Tanf gar­ri­son from at­tacks by pro-As­sad forces. Da­m­as­cus says the US forces are oc­cu­py­ing Syr­ian ter­ri­tory and pro­vid­ing a safe-haven to rebels it deems ter­ror­ists.

Jor­dan has since the start of the year blocked any aid de­liv­er­ies to the camp over its fron­tier and says now that the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment had re­cov­ered ter­ri­tory around the camp, it could not be made re­spon­si­ble for de­liv­er­ing aid.

With Da­m­as­cus in­tran­si­gent, UN aid agen­cies have been press­ing Jor­dan to let in ur­gent de­liv­er­ies to stave off more deaths, aid work­ers and diplo­matic. The UNICEF warned on Thurs­day that with­out “crit­i­cal ac­tion” by par­ties to the con­flict to “al­low and fa­cil­i­tate ac­cess” the lives of thou­sands of chil­dren in the camp were at risk. “The sit­u­a­tion for the es­ti­mated 45,000 peo­ple — among them many chil­dren — will fur­ther worsen with the win­ter fast ap­proach­ing, es­pe­cially when tem­per­a­tures dip be­low freez­ing point in the desert,” said Geert Cap­pelaere, UNICEF re­gional direc­tor for Mid­dle East and North Africa. Al­ready two more in­fants died in the last 48 hours, Cap­pelaere added. Re­lief work­ers in­side the camp say a woman also died this week.

Jor­dan wants the UN and Rus­sia to put pres­sure on Da­m­as­cus to give the writ­ten au­tho­ri­sa­tions needed to al­low sup­plies into Ruk­ban from Syr­ian gov­ern­ment-held ter­ri­tory. Western diplo­matic sources be­lieve the siege of the camp is Syr­ian gov­ern­ment’s ef­fort to put pres­sure on US to get out of Tanf.

Ruk­ban camp, be­tween Jor­dan and Syria borders

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