By Mark Ellis —
Within 10 miles of a military post in southern Syria held by a few hundred U.S. troops, 30,000 civilians are trapped at the Rukban IDP camp, running out of food, water and medicine.
The last aid convoy brought supplies last February. “Residents can no longer find food or medicine on a daily basis and disease is rampant. People there have no jobs and no income,” according to the Washington Post.
While people in the camp feel relatively protected due to their proximity to U.S. troops, they fear the Bashar al-Assad regime, Iranian militias and ISIS. They would like to be transported somewhere where they can be fed.
Some caught in the camp are posting cries for help on social media. “I am speaking to you from Rukban Camp, the camp of death and the camp of hunger,” one woman posted. “Our kids are dying in front of us and we are unable to do anything about it. We used to hear about hunger but now we understand it. People die of hunger here.”
“I am pleading with every human who has a conscience to find a solution to this camp.”
The Washington Post asked James Jeffrey, the U.S. special representative for Syria, why U.S. troops won’t feed the residents of Rukban.
“First of all, if we feed them, it will look like we are going to stay there forever, and there may be other options for them, for example in the northeast or the northwest of the country,” he told The Post.
The U.S. doesn’t want to commit to a long-term presence in Syria, he noted.
Jeffrey has been conferring with Russia about providing assistance. He said those talks have stalled, and that U.N. aid convoys (which require the Assad regime’s permission) have stopped as a result.
Others argue the U.S. is responsible for the refugees’ provision because they are living within their zone of protection. Or, that the U.S. should help transport them to a safe area not controlled by the Assad regime.