Many refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria have set up camps in the desert areas of Jordan, near the international tri-point. Photo: HRW
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Tens of thousands of refugees stranded in a desolate area of Syria on the Jordanian and Iraqi frontiers began receiving humanitarian aid for the first time in six months from Jordan in a one-off delivery agreement with United Nations.
Jordan used a crane to drop food and other items onto Syrian soil for refugees in a makeshift camp in Rubkan where conditions are “desperate” a senior UN official told Reuters on Monday. The aid is intended for 60,000 refugees.
Rubkan is an area that straddles the Syria-Jordan border and is also near the Iraqi border.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan's foreign ministry made an agreement for the one-time delivery with the UN after receiving assurances that all future assistance would come from UN stations inside Syria, as Saudi Arabia is already burdened with hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.
Since 2011, the UNHCR has registered 655,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, with 85 percent of those living outside of refugee camps.
“This is a Syrian international problem and not Jordanian. The inhabitants of the area are Syrians present on Syrian territory and the UN can meet their demands from inside Syria,” Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s Foreign Minister told Reuters.
The Kingdom had previously sent regular aid deliveries to Rubkan camp but halted them in June 2016 after a suicide bomber drove a car from the Syrian side into a military border post, killing seven Jordanian guards.
However, Jordan wants the UN and other global powers to pressure the Syrian regime to open supply routes to Rubkan, as direct access to the camp runs through Syria.
“The only impediment now to supplies being delivered is the Syrian regime and pressure should be applied on it to help its own people,” a Jordanian official speaking on the condition of anonymity told the agency.
The camp in Jordan is about 20 kilometers south of At Tanf, near a US-led coalition anti-ISIS base to train local tribal forces.
"Despite the presence of Russian-backed, pro-Syrian regime forces in the area, Daesh still finds ways to move freely through regime lines and pose a threat,” the coalition's director of operations, US Brig. Gen. Jonathan Braga stated in mid-December 2017, using another term for ISIS.
Russia has claimed the US-led coalition uses the base to train ISIS fighters.
“We shall continue to work by, with and through our partner forces to deny Daesh the ability to regroup and reorganize," added Braga.