AMMONNEWS - U.N. agencies are ramping up aid delivery to tens of thousands of war-displaced Syrians stuck in the desert on Jordan’s sealed border, after months of being denied access, but harsh weather and anxious crowds often disrupt one of the U.N.’s most complex missions anywhere.
Illustrating the logistics challenge, a U.N. convoy taking journalists to a new health centre near the Syrian encampment of Rukban got bogged down for hours after heavy rains mixed with hail turned the hard desert floor to mud. After nightfall, Jordanian armoured personnel carriers repeatedly had to pull the SUVs out of the soggy soil.
For Rukban residents huddling in flimsy tents and makeshift shelters just a few miles away, the flooding was one more of many hardships, including scarce food and inadequate medical care. Anemia and respiratory illnesses are widespread in Rukban, where two-thirds of the residents are women and children, U.N. health officials said.
Another woman, a mother of six in her early 30s, was seeking treatment for an ear infection at the health centre. She said her youngest son, Hamid, died in Rukban at the age of seven months as a result of severe diarrhea.
The two women spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions for talking to the media.
Rukban and a smaller border camp, Hadalat, have grown gradually over the past two years, as Jordan – already host to more than 650,000 Syrian refugees – restricted entry to Syrians fleeing civil war. Population figures are in flux, but the two camps are believed to house between 70,000 and 80,000 residents. Nearly 5 million Syrians have fled their country since the conflict began six years ago.
The camps are located in the area of two parallel earthen mounds, or berms, that roughly mark the border.