UNICEF Says Two Babies Died in Rukban IDP Camp Under Blockade by Assad Regime
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said that two babies have died of illness in the past week in the Rukban IDPs camp on the Syrian border with Jordan. It warned that freezing temperatures and lack of supplies threaten the lives of nearly 45,000 people living in the camp.
“Another sad week for children and families in Rukban. Two sick babies under six months old died in Rukban,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa on Thursday.
“Freezing temperatures and lack of supplies including of basic commodities, threaten the lives of nearly 45,000 people — among them many children, leaving them at the risk of disease and death,” Cappelaere said in a statement.”
The Rukban camp has been under tightened blockade since June. The Assad regime and Russia have been trying to remove the camp and force its residents to enter into the so-called reconciliation agreements and eventually return to the regime-held areas. The camp is home to tens of thousands of displaced persons, thousands of whom suffer from disabilities, including 1,460 women, 1,621 men and 4,273 children.
Cappelaere welcomed the delivery of humanitarian supplies as well as medical referrals, but said more needs to be delivered. He called for all sides concerned to facilitate humanitarian access to reach all children in need in the camp and other areas across Syria as well as the safe, voluntary return of the displaced people.
Poor sanitary conditions and lack of access to proper healthcare led to the spread of several diseases in the camp, especially with the onset of winter. Many IDPs, including children, have died in the camp over the past two months. The Emergency Response Coordinators aid group said they had documented the deaths of 14 people inside the camp as a result of the dire humanitarian conditions.
The Syrian Coalition earlier called on the international relief organizations to save children in the camp as they are "the most vulnerable," and added: "They are waiting for someone to save them from the starvation being carried out by the Assad regime against them and against their parents.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)