Destiny of Thousands of Al-Rukban Residents is Unknown

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فريق التحرير25 ديسمبر 2018آخر تحديث : منذ سنة واحدة
rtx22fg3 sized - حرية برس Horrya press
Syrian refugees near the border checkpoint on the Jordanian-Syrian border, 14 January 2016. Reuters

Ahmed Zakaria- Horrya Press:

Residents of Al-Rukban Camp, on the Syrian-Jordanian border, live in a state of caution followed the decision of the US President, Donald Trump, to withdraw his troops from Syria, especially those deployed in Al-Tanf base, near the camp.

More than 60,000 civilians, most of them women and children, live in Al-Rukban Camp. These people are suffering from poor living conditions under the siege imposed by Assad forces and militias, in addition to blocking the roads, through which food has been entering for more than a month and a half to the camp.

According to sources inside the camp, the residents fear that Assad Regime, together with Russia and Iran, might exploit the gap left by the withdrawal of US troops from that region, to commit massacre against them.

Despite the assurances of the Revolutionary Commando Army, based in Al-Tanf and the 55 km area, near the camp, the residents want the international community to care about their destiny.

Revolutionary Commando Army undertakes to protect the camp

Revolutionary Commando Army issued a statement, a few days ago, stressing that they will protect the camp residents, as they all have common destiny.  The statement that Horrya Press has been briefed on, says: due to the declarations issued by the US Administration, that provided the complete withdrawal of its forces from the Syrian Territory, we assure our people that we will not abandon them in Al-Rukban Camp”.

With regard to the plans for the camp residents after the withdrawal of US force, said Abu Maria, member of the public information office of Revolutionary Commando Army, that “there is no plan at the moment, but the liberated areas should be the first destination for the camp residents, as they are Syrians and every liberated inch is for all Syrians”.

Residents of Al-Rukban have no specific options

The residents of the camp repeatedly called on the United Nations and international organizations to put pressure on Assad regime and its supporters, to lift the blockade of the camp, and establish safe corridors to northern Syria, so people can escape the poor living conditions, but there was no response”.

The teacher, Abu Akram, a resident of the camp and the head of the Jusur al-Rukban school, told Horrya Press that the residents of the camp are concerned about the situation in the area, saying that: “people fear that they will not be transferred to northern Syria”.

 He also expressed the fear that refugees might be in danger should the regime forces control the area, noting that 95% of the residents are civilians, and the rest are military fractions.

Fears of leaving Al-Rukban in the regime’s hands

Despite the fears and anxieties of the residents of the camp of an unknown destiny, sources inside the camp expressed their hope that the international coalition will not abandon them in the hands of the regime forces and militias.

Imad Abu Sham, an activist in the field of relief living in the camp, told Horrya Press that the only available option now is to start negotiations to determine the destiny of the camp, and establish corridors for these who want to leave to the north of Syria.

 He also acknowledged that most of the residents do not want to return to the areas controlled by the regime, because of what happened in Ghouta, Daraa, and northern countryside of Homs, where young men were arrested, and forcibly participated in the battles.

Speaking about the humanitarian situation inside the camp, Abu Sham added that “the humanitarian situation is extremely bad due to the siege since last October, amid the high prices and the lack of medicine and fuel”.

Warning of a humanitarian disaster

Activists fear of a humanitarian catastrophe that may affect women, children and elderly people in the camp if they have been abandoned by the parties protecting the camp area.

Mahmoud Qasim Al-Humaili, official of the relief office in the camp civil administration, said that “in case the US troops and international coalition withdrew, and a fight started between the parties defending the camp and the regime forces, the camp might be targeted by the regime warplanes”.

Moreover, he warned of a humanitarian disaster against the camp residents, especially women and children, in case a fight started in areas close to the camp.

“The residents of the camp will organize civil activities, and there will be contact with the media to put pressure on international, humanitarian and human rights organizations, in addition to the international community to draw the world’s attention. Nevertheless, we are ready to show our resistance, and force the regime to find a suitable solution for us,” added Al-Humaili.

To conclude, he said: “it is known that the international coalition achieve its interests without thinking of the other parties, so we are relying on ourselves at this stage”.

It is worth mentioning that Al-Rukban camp was established at the end of 2014 in the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian desert border triangle, for people who escaped the hell of war.

Translated by: Sura Alloush

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