Delivery of relief


Finally, a United Nations aid convoy has reached the Rukbanrefugee camp in Syria where thousands of people are stranded in the desert. Syrian civilians isolated in a desert camp near the Jordanian border were at risk of starvation and death after a UN envoy carrying much needed aid deliveries was postponed, in what is fast becoming the civil war’s latest humanitarian catastrophe. However, this delivery will provide the refugees some relief.

 Al Rukban camp is home to some 50,000 residents who are trapped inside after Jordan closed its border with Syria following an attack on its soldiers by ISIS in 2016. Many of the residents are women and children, who are camped out in the open desert. At least four people have died in the past month, due to malnutrition and lack of medical care. Meanwhile, desperately needed aid deliveries had repeatedly failed or been postponed, until now. The reason being that humanitarian organizations and the United Nations have had only limited access to the Rukban camp in the berm between Jordan and Syria since its formation. Last year, however, the deteriorating security situation near the border between the two states completely cut off their access, leaving residents almost wholly dependent on sporadic cross-border deliveries from Jordan. There are no words to describe the tragic situation inside the camp, it is deteriorating minute by minute, especially after the recent sandstorms that rattled everything.

 Meanwhile, the powerhouses are playing the blame game. Russia, a close ally of the Syrian government, has blamed the US for the deterioration of the situation in Rukban. The inability of the US side to live up to its commitment to provide security in the 55-kilometre area around its base in Tanf stopped the convoy from going, better arrangements could have provided relief to the people much earlier.

About half of Syria’s population has been displaced by the ruinous civil war, and hundreds of thousands have been killed. What began as a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian rule more than seven years ago then devolved into a multisided war that dragged in international powers, including the United States and Russia. The aftermath is horrendous, there is a human catastrophe at every corner.

 Many actors are to blame for the humanitarian disaster that has befallen Syria, of course, with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose brutal response to the rebellion against his rule precipitated the crisis. The problem has been multiplied, though, by the cynical interventions of global and regional powers. In the end, it’s the innocent that are suffering. There are no easy solutions in Syria, especially when all the countries involved are willing to allow tens of thousands more to die in the pursuit of power. But any settlement must begin by reducing foreign intervention in a country that has been destroyed by power politics. This humanitarian crisis needs to stop.