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Aid reaches isolated Syrian refugee camp for first time in 3 months

An aid convoy arrives at the isolated Rukban camp, the first time since November [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 February, 2019

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The 40,000 residents of the Rukban refugee camp located in the desert on the Syrian-Jordanian border have been left destitute by the lack of basic supplies over the winter.
An aid convoy on Wednesday reached displaced Syrians in desperate need of assistance near the Jordanian border, in the first such delivery in three months, the Red Crescent said.

The convoy of 133 trucks carrying aid including food and clothes for children reached the outskirts of the Rukban camp, said a spokeswoman for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

"Three months after a first humanitarian aid convoy entered the Rukban camp, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in collaboration with the United Nations is continuing to carry out its duty towards more than 40,000 displaced people in Rukban," SARC said in a statement.

The convoy also includes healthcare items and medical supplies to immunise women and children, it said.

"A vaccination campaign will be launched, under the supervision of a medical team, to immunise children against measles, polio, tuberculosis and hepatitis," SARC added.

Wednesday's delivery is the first to reach the camp on the Jordanian border, after a first smaller convoy from Damascus on November 3.

The November delivery was the first to reach the camp from the Syrian capital in around 10 months, after another via the Jordanian border in January 2018.

Conditions inside the camp have deteriorated, with many inside surviving on just one simple meal a day, often bread and olive oil or yoghurt, according to one resident.

Last month, the UN children's agency UNICEF said eight children had died at the camp due to winter cold. Its desert location means the winter temperatures can dip below freezing.

The camp, home to displaced people from across Syria, lies close to the Al-Tanf base, used by the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, located near to where the Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi borders meet.

The camp is located inside a “deconfliction zone” set up by the US-led international coalition in 2016, which Washington saw as a strategic foothold while it launched offensive against the Islamic State, as well as being close to the Iranian weapons supply route entering Syria from Iraq.

However the desert camp has become even more isolated since Jordan sealed its border with Syria in 2016, after an Islamic State group militant attack on Jordanian border guards left seven officers dead, and causing refugees to be stranded on the frontier.

Due to the fluctuating conflict between numerous factions, access to the camp is often restricted due to security and logistical reasons.

Syria's civil war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.

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