Ahmad Salah for VT Damascus
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria the issue of Syrian refugees and internally displace has been the subject of countless articles and reports with international humanitarian organizations and countries involved in the Syrian conflict shifting responsibility for the plight of migrants.
🇷🇺MFA Spokesperson #Zakharova: The situation in “Rukban” camp in Syria, located in #US occupation zone, is still complicated. The civilians who managed to escape from there tell that they saw #UN’s humanitarian convoys, but the aid never reached them pic.twitter.com/1lhhnSgA0W
— Russia in RSA 🇷🇺 (@EmbassyofRussia) June 5, 2020
#Lavrov: The US is using the #Rukban camp as a pretext for keeping its illegal military presence in #Syria🇸🇾.
The Syrian army’s actions are a response to a flagrant violation of the agreements on #Idlib
— Russian Embassy in USA 🇷🇺 (@RusEmbUSA) February 19, 2020
The most notorious example of human suffering put against political games is the Rukban refugee camp located in eastern Syria inside the 55-km zone around Al-Tanf base controlled by the U.S. and its proxies.
Refugees in #Syria’s #Rukban camp receive only 10% of the international humanitarian aid, the rest is being sold by the Islamic State terrorists, controlled by the #US military, says a former militant commander who surrendered to the Syrian Army.
— Russian Mission in Geneva (@mission_russian) May 19, 2020
According to official information, more than 50,000 people, mostly women and children, currently live in the camp. This is a huge number comparable to the population of a small town.
#Zakharova: Tensions remain in the area occupied by the #US around Al-Tanf. The @UN plan to evacuate the remaining residents of the #Rukban camp has been delayed for almost 5 months, due to the #US and US-controlled militants refusing to provide the necessary security guarantees. pic.twitter.com/Xi7fgnWfQc
— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) January 23, 2020
The Syrian government, aware of the plight of people in Rukban, has repeatedly urged Washington to open a humanitarian corridor so that everyone can safely return home. However, all such proposals were ignored by the American side. U.S. also refused to provide the camp with first aid items. Neighbouring Jordan is inactive, too, despite Rukban being the largest of dozens other temporary detention centres in Syria, where people eke out a meager existence.
The 10,000 Syrians in Rukban displaced-persons camp between Jordan and Syria shouldn't have to risk their lives by returning to Syrian gov't-controlled areas to obtain health care when there's a UNICEF clinic just 5 km into Jordan, but Jordan blocks them. https://t.co/CexUs28beu pic.twitter.com/giXanhnQm9
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) May 7, 2020
At the same time, the problem is not only refugee camps. Syria has been at war for a decade. The country’s economy has suffered greatly over this period, and many cities have been practically grazed to the ground. Moreover, the global coronavirus epidemic didn’t spare Syria and drained the already weakened economy even more. However, Damascus’ attempts of post-war reconstruction and economic recovery were undermined by multiple packages of severe sanctions imposed by the U.S. At the same time, U.S.-based human rights monitors and humanitarian organizations continue to weep over the Syrian citizens’ misery.
The situation is the same for those refugees who stay in camps abroad, especially in countries bordering on Syria, particularly Jordan and Turkey. Ankara has been using Syrian citizens as a leverage against the European states in pursuit of political benefits for a long time. No one pays attention to the lives of people who are used as a change coin in big politics. This is equally true for Rukban where refugees are held in inhuman conditions and not allowed to return to their homeland. In those rare exceptions that they are able to leave, refugees have to pay large sums of money that most of those living in camp are not able to come by.
It’s hard to predict how long the Syrian conflict will go on and when – or if – the American military will leave the Al-Tanf base. One thing can be said for sure: the kind of criminal inaction and disregard for humanitarian catastrophe witnessed in refugee camps is a humiliating failure of modern diplomacy and an unforgivable mistake for the international community. People shouldn’t be a tool in the games of politicians.