The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned that Syrian children are dying at an alarming rate in the refugee camp of Rukban near the Jordanian border, with at least one death reported every five days since the beginning of the year.
In a statement on Wednesday, the agency said that of the 12 children who have died already this year, five were newborn babies. One month ago, UNICEF warned that freezing temperatures and lack of healthcare were putting the lives of children in Rukban at extreme risk.
“Despite the best efforts of the humanitarian community to provide emergency support, the desperate conditions in Rukban are simply no place for a child to be born or to grow up,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
On January 15, UNICEF reported that 15 children, mostly infants, had died in IDP camps across Syria as a result of the severe cold.
At least 175 children in Rukban refugee camp suffered malnutrition last month. Many children have already died as a result of lack of medicines and medical care, while dozens more suffered breathing difficulties as a result of a sandstorm that hit the region.
“UNICEF calls on all parties to consider children first and urgently find durable solutions to end the years of suffering that they have had to bear,” Cappelaere said. UNICEF also called for immediately facilitating sustained, unimpeded and unconditional humanitarian access to children in need.
Russia and the Assad regime have further tightened the blockade on al-Rukban IDPs camp near the Jordanian border since early October 2018. The Syrian Coalition said that the sieged is aimed at “breaking the will of those trapped inside; displace them once again; and make them face an unknown fate.”
The Coalition also said that “a genocide is taking place in front of the eyes of the world which remains silent.” It called on the international community in general, and humanitarian organizations in particular, to exert more efforts to put an end to the suffering of the IDP in the camp and to take serious action to save the lives of children trapped in the camp.
The Assad regime has tightened the blockade on the camp since early October, preventing the delivery of food and medical supplies despite repeated appeals for the delivery of aid to more than 50,000 people trapped inside. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)