A humanitarian catastrophe is “imminent” if aid cannot reach an isolated refugee camp in Southeastern Syria, the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) warned Monday.
Since January, aid has been blocked from reaching the al-Rubkan refugee camp near the border of Jordan and Iraq, where some 55,000 internally displaced persons have found refuge from the ongoing civil war.
Refugees have been trapped there since Jordan sealed its border with Syria following an attack on its soldiers by ISIS in June 2016.
The lack of aid and resources has already taken a devastating toll on the camp’s inhabitants, UOSSM reports.
Severe malnutrition is widespread, and 15 people have died from preventable causes since the beginning of October alone, officials on the ground said.
On October 8, two newborns died in the camp in less than 24 hours. Four-month-old Huda Raslan died from malnutrition and a lack of medical access, and Munaf Al Mahmoud, a one-year-old baby died due to the lack of adequate medical care.
@MaghaweirThowra soldiers and their families donate their own food to over 150 hungry families in #Rukban. While the Regime blocks food and aid to #Rukban and #altanf, we do everything in our power to help the civilians in the area.@Liveuamap @QalaatAlMudiq2 @Hammurabi_News pic.twitter.com/Jdgzwfe2nR
— مغاوير الثورة (@MaghaweirThowra) October 14, 2018
“It is barbaric and illegal under international law to deny these civilians aid. Children are facing horrific malnutrition and are drinking contaminated water,” Dr. Hussam Al Fakir, the chairman of UOSSM, said.
The camp falls within a so-called deconfliction zone set up by the United States with the aim of preventing pro-Assad forces from operating there.
The Syrian army has sealed off routes leading to the camp, preventing smugglers and traders from bringing food and other goods to its inhabitants. Jordan has refused to allow international aid agencies to deliver supplies through its border.
“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,” Abu Abdullah, the head of the civil affairs council that runs the camp, told Reuters last week.
The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF also urged parties to the conflict to “allow and facilitate” humanitarian access to the camp to protect the lives of thousands of children living there.