The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported Thursday September 12 that it had delivered humanitarian aid on Wednesday to the 15,000 IDPs in the Rukban camp in southeastern Syria. The camp management, however, said that the UN and Syrian government convoy had not been allowed to enter the camp.
The United Nations reported Thursday September 12 that it had delivered humanitarian aid on Wednesday to the 15,000 IDPs stuck in the Rukban camp near the border between Syria and Jordan. However, the camp management said that the convoy had not been allowed to enter the actual camp.
The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a press release Thursday saying that the distribution was "the second phase of an extensive operation aimed at easing the suffering of thousands of people who have been stuck along the Syrian-Jordanian border for years. The first phase was a preparatory mission in August 2019, to determine the priority needs of the Rukban population and to identify civilians wanting and seeking support to leave the area."
Convoy blocked outside gate
The camp sprung up in the last few years after thousands of civilians fleeing government repression in areas that revolted in 2011 and soon after got stuck in the desert along the border with Jordan.
Most of the population in the Rukban camp are from areas of Syria where opposition to the Syrian government is high. OCHA said that it had distributed, alongside the government's Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), aid for 15,000 Syrian IDPs.
Media outlets close to Syrian opposition groups quoted the Rukban camp management as saying that the UN and Syrian government convoy had not been allowed to enter the camp itself and had been stopped at a checkpoint several kilometres away from the entrance.
A statement issued by the camp management said that the aid had not been allowed in to prevent Syrian government vehicles from the Red Crescent entering Rukban and forcing the civilians to return to areas under Syrian regime control. OCHA did not comment on the statement but said that the third phase of support for the civilians in the camp will consist of accompanying the IDPs out who want to "voluntarily" leave Rukban. This will be done, OCHA said, in line with humanitarian principles and minimum protection standards.