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Hundreds evacuated from besieged Syrian Rukban refugee camp after 'UN failure to provide' Open in fullscreen

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Hundreds evacuated from besieged Syrian Rukban refugee camp after 'UN failure to provide'

The Rukban camp has been under a prolonged siege by Syrian regime forces [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 September, 2019

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Some 150 people have been evacuated from the besieged Rukban refugee camp in the Syrian desert, as residents criticised the United Nations for not providing food and medicine.
Some 150 people have departed the besieged Rukban refugee camp in the southern Syrian desert on Sunday, heading for the Syrian regime held city of Homs.

The Rukban camp, which is located near the Syrian-Jordanian border, has been under a brutal blockade by Russian and Assad regime forces since October 2018. Conditions inside the camp are dire, with many people surviving on one meal of bread and olive oil a day.

In February 2019 the regime and Russia announced that they would open “humanitarian corridors” out of the camp.

Hundreds of residents have left the camp, but many remain deeply mistrustful of the regime, fearing arrest or forced conscription by the regime army if they left.

A source within the camp told The New Arab that the 150 people who left on Sunday “were accompanied by a delegation from the United Nations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and they were given accommodation in schools in the Bayada area of Homs”.

The source also said that the United Nations promised to return to the camp to “evacuate citizens wanting to leave the regime-besieged camp”.

However, the local council administering the Rukban camp said “the United Nations has deceived the camp’s residents. It promised before to allow food and medicine into the camp but it didn’t fulfil this promise.”

The Assad regime has prevented the entry of essential supplies to the camp on several occasions before.

The local council said that it would not allow any further UN delegations into the camp unless they brought with them supplies for those of the camp’s inhabitants wishing to remain.

There are currently around 12,000 people in the Rukban camp, which used to host 40,000 refugees. More than 70 percent of them are women and children.

The US-led coalition against the Islamic State militant group operates a military base nearby. Syrian rebels are also present at the base.

Residents have called for the Rukban camp to be placed under coalition protection and for it to be transformed into a model village. They have also called for a road to be opened to opposition-held areas of northern Syria.

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