Rise in Temperature Results in the Death of Two Children in Rukban Camp, and Water Cut Exacerbates Tragedy
Ahmad Zakariya - The Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office
The heat wave that had recently hit the region, in north, east and central Syria, is not the only aspect of the extent of the tragedy in Syria. Residents in the Rukban camp on the Syrian-Jordanian border have to also deal with the watercut in the camp, which coincides with the harsh weather condition.
Abu Sham, Al-Sharq agency correspondent, and member of the Rukban camp tribes, said that the heat has greatly impacted the residents in the camp, and killed two children, since the camps are not equipped for either the heat of the summer, or the cold of the winter.
Khudeir Al-Muhya, another member of the Rukban camp tribes, talked about the immense suffering of the camp residents, because of the heat wave, and which also coincides with a water cut. Many human casualties were recorded, mostly children, who died as a result of epidemics, by either desentery or sun strokes; especially children who fetch water for their families from distribution points that are far away from their area of residence.
Abu Sham continues to inform RFS that the water cut in the eastern sector has been prevalent for more than 25 days. It is available in the wastern sector of the camp, but it is 5km away. The water in the western sector is being provided by the Jordanian government, and cannot be pumped to the eastern sector due to damage in the water pipes. The Jordanian government however, promised to fix the problem in the coming weeks. Abu Sham continues that this has pushed traders to take advantage of the situation, especially those who own vehicles that transport the water from the western sector, to request astronomical numbers from the residents for water transportation.
Khudeir Al-Muhya agreed with Abu Sham and said that the IDP must go early in the morning and wait for water coming from Jordan, and has to wait 8 hours under the burning sun, and might even take more time to obtain a water tank and move it to the camp. The traders charge high rates for the water, up to 2000SYP per barrel.
Abu Sham noted that the eastern sector of the camp needs water for up to 850m square, whereas even previously, water was provided for only 600m square, which was still not sufficient to fulfill the needs of residents inside the camp, with a population of approximately 68,500 people, most who were displaced because of bombardment and battles.
Abu Sham added that this is not the first time that the camp has to go through such an ordeal, as last year there was also a water cut that lasted for about a month and half, without any explanation on why.Until now, there have been no initiatives in trying to fix the problem, and they have tried to appeal to UNICEF, as it is repsonsible for providing water to the camp. However, Abu Sham said that all they got was promises, although the water pipes and damaged grids can be fixed in 24 hours. Unfortunately, and since 25 days, we were promised that the water grids will be fixed in 3 weeks, which hasn’t happened.
He added that in the case water continues to be cut, this will exacerbate the suffering of the residents, as most are unable to afford buying the water, mostly because of unemployment. He explained that after two years of staying in the camp, almost 75% of the residents live in financially challenging circumstances. Humanitarian support had stopped, and there are no NGOs supporting the camp, with the exception of “Jusur Al-Amal”, which has started working there since seven months. The NGO had provided the camp with a water reservoir, in addition to several water barrels, and so did Maghaweer al-Thawra previously, for one time.
Regarding the methods IDPs are resorting to obtain water, in light of the water cuts, Abu Sham said that the IDPs are either walking a huge distance of 5km to obtain water from the western sector of the camp, or they are forced to buy water that goes by the name of “Al-Khuburat”, which is salty, and is basically a collection of rain water. It is usually polluted, and has caused many cases of poisoning and diarrhea among residents.
Khudeir Al-Muhya confirmed from his side, that rain water is sold for 1500SYP a barrel, and is only fit for cattle, and not humans.
Activists inside the camp requested a hashtag be distributed under #Al_Rukban_70_thousand_IDPs_under_the_sun_without_water, to bring attention and to urge international organization and the UN, to move and provide what is needed to the families inside the camp.