Located in an opposition enclave of southern Syria, the al-Rukban camp has suffered years of siege by the Syrian regime. Recently however, Damascus has tightened its grasp on the refugee camp that houses thousands of IDPs. Even more dreadful for the inhabitants of al-Rukban, donor fatigue has dried the camp of many of its resources, particularly of water.
“Starve or Kneel”
As a result, the Syrian opposition coalition, via its Secretary-General Haytham Rahmeh, decried the policy of ‘starve or kneel down’ followed by Bashar al-Assad.
Rahmeh pointed out that the residents of the al-Rukban camp are being forced to leave to regime-held areas due to the tightened blockade that the Assad regime has imposed on the camp for years, adding that the residents began to surrender themselves to the regime due to the absence of necessities of life. He also indicated that the Assad regime is forcing camp residents to so-called reconciliation processes, only to detain some returnees a few days later.
The opposition official reiterated the need for urgent UN intervention to relieve residents of the al-Rukban camp with life-saving assistance. He also stressed the need for a firm international stance to rein in the Assad regime, which continues to besiege the camp and threatens its residents with displacement and arrest.
Social media activists are also shedding light on the poor conditions of the inhabitant of al-Rukban, according to the opposition website al-Souria Net.
They are using the “Save the Rukban Camp” hashtag to illustrate the poor conditions of thousands of camp residents, due to lack of allocated water and high temperatures.
In late May, UNICEF announced that the “Rukban” camp, located on the Syrian-Jordanian border, will see its water quota reduced by half. This development coincided with the siege imposed by the Syrian regime on the camp for years.
The camp’s residents, mostly women and children, suffer from a significant shortage of safe water for drinking and use. This is accompanied by a heat wave amid fears of the spread of epidemics and diseases, especially with the spread of scorpions and snakes in the vicinity of the camp, located in a desert area.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said three families from the al-Rukban camp left the camp on Monday, towards the regime-controlled Homs governorate, due to lack of water and fear of dehydration.
Activists are petitioning the UN
Syrian humanitarian bodies and activists appealed Wednesday to the UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordination Office in Amman, the Jordanian government and international relief organizations to urgently move to deliver drinking water to Al-Rukban camp, located on the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi borders. According to the pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) condemned the increasing pressure on the camp’s residents to push them toward the Syrian regime’s territory.
In a statement, the SNHR called on the international community to move to save their lives, including returning the drinking water supply to the previous level and continuing to deliver it. t also said the situation will worsen as the heat increases in July and August to levels that threaten the lives of the camp residents, especially women and children.
“Over the past few years, we witnessed many residents being forced to exit the camp towards the Syrian regime territory, despite the possibility of suffering great violations, including arbitrary arrest, forced disappearance, torture, and forced recruitment,” the Network said, adding that it documented many violations of that kind against returnees.