DAMASCUS, SYRIA — The United States military has rejected offers to resolve the growing humanitarian crisis in the Rukban refugee camp in Syria, which sits inside a 55 km zone occupied by the U.S. along the Syria-Jordan border. The U.S. has also refused to let any of the estimated 40,000 refugees — the majority of which are women and children — leave the camp voluntarily, even though children are dying in droves from lack of food, adequate shelter and medical care. The U.S. has also not provided humanitarian aid to the camp even though a U.S. military base is located just 20 km (12.4 miles) away.
The growing desperation inside the Rukban camp has received sparse media coverage, likely because of the U.S.’ control over the area in which the camp is located. The U.S. has been accused of refusing to let civilians leave the area — even though nearly all have expressed a desire to either return to Syrian government-held territory or seek refuge in neighboring countries such as Turkey — because the camp’s presence helps to justify the U.S.’ illegal occupation of the area.
Though the U.S. has long justified its presence in al-Tanf as necessary to defeat Daesh (ISIS), the U.S. government has also acknowledged that al-Tanf’s true strategic importance lies in U.S. efforts to “contain” Iran by blocking a connection from Iran to Syria through Iraq. Al-Tanf lies near the area where the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan meet. Thus, in the U.S.’ game of brinkmanship with Iran, Rukban’s estimated 40,000 inhabitants have become pawns whose basic needs are ignored by their occupiers.
U.S. shows no interest in meeting
On Tuesday, delegations from Russia, Syria, the UN, and the Rukban refugee camp met to discuss the fate of the camp’s inhabitants after a UN survey found that 95 percent of the camp’s inhabitants wanted to leave the camp, while 83 percent wanted to return to their hometowns in areas of Syria now under Syrian government control.
However, the U.S. military and State Department officials in nearby Jordan rejected an invitation to Tuesday’s meeting. The U.S. military also prohibited a Syrian-Russian delegation from entering the Rukban camp on Tuesday. The delegation had sought to assess conditions in the camp, which have become increasingly desperate according to reports from a variety of outlets, including U.S. government-funded outlets like Voice of America.'
Read more: Syria’s Rukban Now Little More Than a US-Controlled Concentration Camp – and the Pentagon Won’t Let Refugees Leave
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