Displaced Syrians in the Rukban camp near the Jordanian border (File)
“Hundreds” of women have finally left the besieged Rukban camp in southeast Syria, local sources tell EA.
The sources said the women departed the camp near Jordan, home to more than 40,000 displaced Syrians since 2015, on Sunday.
The Russian Defense Ministry, which has been pressuring residents to go back to home areas, issued a statement through Maj. Gen. Viktor Kupchishin, the head of the “Center for Syrian Reconciliation”:
On March 23, more than 360 refugees left the Rukban camp for the territory controlled by the Syrian government via the Jleb crossing point. They received necessary aid, they are provided with food and accommodation.
The local sources did not confirm why the women departed, after months of an Assad regime siege and Russian efforts failed to shift the residents. The displaced fled Islamic State attacks in 2015 and were trapped in the barren area, known as “The Berm”, when Jordan closed the border in June 2016 after an ISIS suicide attack.
More than 90% of the residents told the UN in a survey last month that they wish to leave Rukban. However, they said they were prevented by fear of detentions and forced conscription and insecurity over the status of their property.
The Assad regime cut routes to the camp last autumn, preventing Bedouin traders from reaching Rukban. Damascus has only allowed two aid deliveries since January 2018. The blockade has been compounded by Jordan’s refusal to let supplies across the border.
Dozens of people have died from shortages of food, medicine, and supplies and inadequate medical care since last autumn. The UN has warned that thousands of children are at risk.
Russia has tried for more than a month to remove the residents, first through “humanitarian corridors” — military checkpoints — to which no one showed up and then through a “green bus” convoy which never reached the camp amid protests by the displaced.
Russian propaganda has blamed “militants” and the US military, which has a base at Tanf near the Iraq border, for its failure to force departures until Sunday.
Last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry put out a tweet calling for the “liquidation” of the camp.