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The New Arab

Rukban camp residents wary after US withdrawal

At least 36 people have died from lack of healthcare in al-Rukban (Getty)

Date of publication: 24 December, 2018

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Refugees in al-Rukban camp worry for their future after US withdrawal from Syria.
Residents of al-Rukban camp near the Syria-Jordan border fear the consequences of US withdrawal from the nearby al-Tanf military base, which leaves only fighters allied to the Free Syrian Army protecting the camp.

Around 50,000 displaced people live in the camp under difficult conditions almost two months after the UN faciliated the entry of aid into the camp.

"For the people of the camp, the situation has not changed since the regime imports its siege on the area," said Omar al-Homsi. 

"There is a cold winter, limited means of heating and high prices of fuel.  There are no hospitals or clinics to treat patients, and the limited amount of medicine which enters the camp is sold at a high price, and refugees don't have the money to buy them," he said.

"What is most frightening is the regime's control of the camp, along with the issue of reconcilliation, which may mean young people are forced to serve in the army, or face arrest and assassination." 

Al-Homsi appealed to the UN to protect the people of the camp from the regime and its militias.

Referring to the US withdrawal , Ayad al-Omar, a displaced person in the camp said: "Displaced people are the most vulnerable, and no one cares about their destiny, not even the UN, and reconciliation with the regime is not an option,"

"We do not know [what will happen].  There are rumours we maybe given safe passage to north Syria, so we will wait.  Our primary concern is the safety of women and children". 
 
Yusef abu Mohammed, another resident of the camp is also concerned at the effect of US withdrawal on displaced people in Syria.

"People need assistance quickly.  The worst thing is disease and hunger, and camp residents try to get through each day as it comes and leave tomorrow to the mercy of God."

Rukban camp includes displaced people from different areas of Syria from Palmyra, Deir al-Zour and al-Raqqa. 

It is dubbed "the death camp" in Syria because of the difficult humanitarian conditions faced by the people.  At least 36 have died this year due to lack of access to healthcare. 


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