DAMASCUS/SYDNEY 10 November 2018
– UNICEF, with United Nations partners and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, concluded a six-day humanitarian aid convoy to Rukban camp in southeast Syria near the Jordanian border. This is the first convoy to the camp from within Syria, where nearly 50,000 people live, the majority of whom are women and children. The last aid delivery to the area was in January from Jordan.
UNICEF sent 21 trucks of humanitarian assistance as part of the convoy and supported 21 vaccinators with vaccines, cold chain equipment and medical supplies to immunize 10,000 children against measles, polio and other childhood diseases in the camp. This has been one of the most complex humanitarian operations in Syria with over 75 trucks and more than 100 humanitarian and logistics workers delivering aid to people in need in Syria south-eastern desert conditions.
“Children and women in Rukban have had extremely limited access to health services amid worsening conditions,” said Fran Equiza, UNICEF Representative in Syria. “UNICEF advocated extensively with all relevant parties to include vaccinators in the convoy to protect children against life-threatening diseases.”
“Most children under-five years old had never been vaccinated,” said Dr. Husam Eddine Baradee, UNICEF’s Health & Nutrition Officer who accompanied the convoy. “Despite the challenges, we were able to vaccinate 5,100 children in the few days we had access to the camp, yet we absolutely need sustained access as thousands more children still need to be immunised.”
UNICEF staff described the conditions in the camp as dire with many people having to survive on just one meal a day. “I barely eat anything at all because my priority is to feed my children,” a mother told UNICEF “I get dizzy when I breastfeed these days,” she added.
UNICEF’s supplies sent with the convoy included much-needed health, nutrition, water and sanitation supplies in addition to winter clothing for children under-14 years old and basic medicines, including antibiotics.
UNICEF calls on all parties to the conflict to allow all those displaced to voluntarily return to their homes or a place of their choosing in safety and dignity, and guarantee sustained humanitarian access to be able to deliver assistance to all children in need in Rukban and elsewhere in Syria.
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