AMMAN (Reuters) – The United Nations has finished distribution of aid to thousands of Syrians, mostly women and children, stranded in the desert close to the border with Jordan, an aid official said on Wednesday.
A U.N-led convoy of more than 70 trucks arrived on Saturday under Russian army protection after months of delay in the first such first aid delivery from inside Syria to the rebel-held camp that has over 50,000 people.
“We finished distribution of all items, food, sanitation and hygiene supplies and core relief items,” Fadwa AbedRabou Baroud, a U.N official with the convoy told Reuters.
“The overall humanitarian situation in Rukban camp remains dire, with shortages of basic commodities, protection concerns, and the death of several children who reportedly were unable to get medical treatment,” Baroud said.
The assistance would only provide short respite and without regular and uninterrupted access, the plight of desperate residents in harshest desert conditions would only further deteriorate as winter cold sets in, the U.N official added.
The U.N. team will complete a vaccination campaign against measles, polio and other diseases to protect some 10,000 vulnerable children in the camp before it departs, Baroud said.
The U.S. State Department welcomed the aid to the camp, located close to the Tanf U.S. military base in the desert near where the borders of Syria, Jordan and Iraq converge.
The camp is within a “deconfliction zone” set up by U.S. forces. Damascus says U.S. troops are occupying Syrian territory and providing a safe haven for rebels.
Washington said it hoped Moscow would continue to put pressure on the Syrian government to comply with U.N. resolutions on allowing humanitarian access across frontlines.
The camp was last month besieged on the Syrian side of the border by the Syrian army, preventing smugglers and traders from delivering food.
In the last three years, tens of thousands of people have fled to the camp from Islamic State-held parts of Syria being targeted by Russian and U.S.-led coalition air strikes.
(Editing by Angus MacSwan)