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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Syrian regime approves UN aid to besieged desert camp 

Aid has been blocked to Al Rukban camp since last week

Overview of Al Rukban camp, between the Jordan and Syria borders. AP
Overview of Al Rukban camp, between the Jordan and Syria borders. AP

Syria's government on Wednesday approved a UN aid shipment to be allowed into a desolated area near the Jordanian border that is harbouring thousands of displaced civilians in a besieged camp on the brink of collapse.

Internally displaced Syrians inside Al Rukban camp have been running out of food and water after President Bashar Al Assad's regime closed routes leading to their camp blocking aid deliveries and relief workers from entering more than ten days ago.

"We heard that there will be shipment, but we don't know if the regime is honest this time," a resident inside the camp told The National.

Jordan closed its border with Syria in 2016 following an attack on its army by ISIS, but agreed earlier this year to allow a one-off aid shipment.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said recently that his country, already burdened with hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria, could not be made responsible for delivering aid to the camp.

"We still haven't received any medical or food supplies and I'm unsure if we can survive until next week," the resident said.

Al Rukban camp, which hosts around 65,000 civilians, is located on a site that is controlled by tribal militias, US forces and the Free Syrian Army.

It lies within a 55 kilometre so-called de-confliction zone set up by the Pentagon with the aim of blocking Iranian supply routes to the region and preventing pro-regime forces from operating there.

UN officials say they have contacted local staff in the camp to inform them that they have received authorisation from Damascus to send an aid convoy on October 25.

Last week, the the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) urged the international community to "allow and facilitate" humanitarian access to the camp to protect the lives of thousands of children living there.

The agency reported that over two children, a 5-day-old boy and a 4-month-old girl died last week due to lack of medical care.

Tens of thousands of people have fled to the camp from ISIS-held areas in Syria that are being targeted by Russian and US-led coalition air strikes.

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