|Date: Nov 8, 2018|
|Source: The Daily Star|
|UN completes food distribution in Syria's Rukban|
|Gemma Fox| The Daily Star|
BEIRUT: The United Nations has finished distributing aid to the tens of thousands of Syrians stranded in the desert camp of Rukban at the Syrian-Jordanian border, a U.N. official said Tuesday.
"We finished distribution of all items, food, sanitation and hygiene supplies and core relief items," Fadwa AbedRabou Baroud, a U.N official with the convoy, told The Daily Star.
The U.N. estimates that over 50,000 Syrians, mostly women and children, are displaced in Rukban, having been forced to flee ongoing violence in Syria but unable to cross the border into Jordan.
Over 10,000 food parcels, 10,000 family hygiene kits and 4,000 water purification tablets were put of the humanitarian supplies delivered, Baroud said.
“It’s much better now, everyone in the camp has been able to get some help,” a director of a school in the camp, who asked to be identified as Abu Kareem, told The Daily Star from Rukban.
The joint United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy of more than 70 trucks entered the camp Saturday, bringing much needed relief to the civilians on the brink. It was the first such aid delivery in over nine months.
“The humanitarian situation is dire, most people lack the most basic assistance and services,” Baroud said. “The lack of healthcare is a major issue, with no doctor in the whole camp and access to the U.N. clinic in Jordan extremely limited.”
At least four people, including two children under the age of five, have died in the camp from lack of access to food and medicine. A 20-year-old woman who suffered from anemia died after she was denied entry to cross into Jordan to access a UNICEF medical clinic, the U.N.’s children agency said.
A U.N.-led medical team will remain in the camp until it completes its vaccination campaign, which hopes to immunize some 10,000 vulnerable children against measles, polio and other diseases.
Abu Kareem said that medicine is extremely expensive in Rukban, and so the immunization campaign will be essential for his 360 young students.
Abu Nashan, who has been in the camp for three years, told The Daily Star over the phone that the aid was a relief to him and his family, but there are fears over how long it will last.
“There is so much hunger in the camp,” he said. “We don’t have anything, and I’m worried that the aid we have now won’t last more than a month.”
Without regular and uninterrupted access, Baroud warned that the assistance will only provide a short respite to the desperate residents stuck in the harsh desert conditions, who are now bracing themselves for the cold winter months ahead.
The camp lies in a 55-kilometer deconfliction zone set up by U.S. forces. The U.S. State Department has welcomed the aid to the camp, located close to the Tanf U.S. military base.