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Syrian and Russian military evacuating refugees from camp on border with Jordan

The Rukban refugee camp is located near the town of al-Tanf in Homs province, 20 kilometers from a US military base
Rukban camp, 2016 AP Photo
Rukban camp, 2016
© AP Photo

TADMUR, December 26. /TASS/. Damascus assisted by the Russian military from the Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Parties is arranging the evacuation of displaced persons from the Rukban refugee camp near the Syrian-Jordanian border, the coordinator for peace and security in Homs province’s border areas, Haj Adel, told reporters on Tuesday.

"Together with the Syrian Arab Army and with the support of Russian military specialists in the settlement of Tudmor, we have managed to establish contact with the Rukban refugee camp in order to evacuate refugees to their homes, who for some reason or other have failed to leave the camp on their own," the coordinator said. "Here (in Tudmor), the refugees will be vetted by Syrian intelligence and the Russian military police, after which they will head back to their homes without any hassle," he went on to say.

According to Adel, the Rukban camp occupants are facing dwindling supplies of food and medicines. "The attitude to the refugees leaves much to be desired, there is no unity here amongst the people, its basically every man for himself," he said. "I would like to add that people in Rukban have been receiving humanitarian aid only from the Syrian government. The aid that the US and other countries may have possibly offered, has not reached this refugee camp," he added.

The coordinator also said there are Islamic State militants and foreign mercenaries among the inhabitants of the refugee camp. "According to information from my people staying in the camp, there is a group of gunmen calling themselves the New Syrian Army in the camp. They are not numerous, and the group consists of people fleeing Islamic State (after it was defeated in Syria) and arriving in Rukban, as well as of refugees who were forced to swear allegiance to this group. Foreign mercenaries were also spotted in Rukban," he added.

About Rukban

The Rukban refugee camp is located near the town of al-Tanf in Homs province, 20 kilometers from a US military base, near which the American armed forces had earlier trained the militants of the Syrian opposition. In 2014, when the Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) terrorists began their invasion of Syria, tens of thousands of Syrians from the eastern provinces fled to the al-Tanf area hoping to cross into Jordan. However, the Jordanian authorities shut the border for security reasons as well as due to economic difficulties. This is how the Rukban refugee camp emerged. According to the UN, about 50,000 displaced persons currently live there.

Humanitarian situation in the refugee camp

The refugees live in dire conditions there, as the Jordanian border is closed to them and no aid comes from there. Meanwhile, militants from opposition groups don’t let Syrian state humanitarian convoys into the camp. The US Department of State stopped allocating means to the Pentagon for the upkeep of the groups stationed in al-Tanf, and militants with their families have either moved to Rukban or settled nearby, additionally worsening an already dismal humanitarian situation accompanied by mushrooming crime.

The Russian reconciliation center has repeatedly stated its readiness to offer humanitarian assistance to the refugees, to escort humanitarian convoys from the UN and Damascus traveling from the Syrian territory.

However, the US side refuses to provide security guarantees to any convoys inside the 55-kilometer de-confliction zone set up around the al-Tanf base. Dispatching humanitarian convoys is extremely dangerous without these guarantees, as many gunmen armed by the Americans dwell in the region, and listen to no one but their leaders.