Thousands of Stranded Syrians Won’t Get Aid During Cease-Fire


Posted on: September 15th, 2016 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As a cease-fire takes tenuous hold in Syria, humanitarian aid is finally within reach for more than 250,000 people sealed off in rebel-held east Aleppo. But for 75,000 Syrians stranded at the southern border between Jordan and Syria, aid remains out of reach.

By Thursday afternoon, local time, the Syrian government had failed to provide letters of permission allowing the aid trucks into Syria near Aleppo, according to the United Nations, breaching the freshly inked U.S.-Russian agreement. The U.N. Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, says hundreds of U.N. trucks are at the Turkish border crossing point of Cilvegozu, but cannot move without written permission from the government — permission, Mistura says, that Russia guaranteed earlier this week.

Twenty additional U.N. trucks have been parked in a buffer zone, awaiting assurance that it is safe to travel into Aleppo on Castello Road, the city’s main supply route. Activists inside east Aleppo tell ABC News they can see trucks waiting just outside the city.

The cease-fire has only been extended for another 48 hours, but Mistura’s special adviser was optimistic Thursday.

“We can get the permits today and they can come tomorrow morning, and it’s only the time it takes to load the trucks,” Jan Egeland told reporters in Geneva.

The Deadly Wait Continues Down South

Aleppo threatens to be the nastiest siege of the five-year conflict, but for 75,000 people stuck on the southern border between Syria and Jordan, aid has been nearby for months with no hope of delivery.

Thousands of Syrians have gathered at “the berm,” as aid agencies refer to it, between the two countries in no man’s land. And more arrive every day. According to the U.N., four in five of the Syrians are women and children.

“It’s a desperate picture for people trapped at the berm, food is running out and disease is rife,” said Tirana Hassan, crisis response director at Amnesty International. “In some cases people are suffering or even dying from preventable illnesses, simply because they are not allowed into Jordan and the authorities have blocked access for aid, medical treatment and a meaningful humanitarian response.”

Amnesty International published a grim report on the berm this week, detailing the dire situation and calling on the Jordanian authorities to open up the border immediately. The Jordanian border has long been porous, allowing in more than one million refugees, according to the Jordanian government, of which some 655,990 are registered with the U.N..

But no longer.

After seven soldiers were killed in a suicide bomb attack on June 21 near the border, Jordanian authorities sealed off the Rukban and Hadalat border crossings. Since then, aid agencies have been barred from entering the area and were allowed just one delivery by cranes of 650 metric tons of food and hygiene kits in August.

The area is dry, rocky, devoid of shade, water or vegetation, and temperatures soared above 120 degrees Fahrenheit this summer. Satellite images obtained by Amnesty International show that since the beginning of 2016, the population has skyrocketed.

There were 368 shelters at Rukban a year ago, and today, there are more than 8,295 structures.

Abu Mohamed, a refugee who has been stranded at the berm for five months, tells Amnesty International the situation has sharply declined in the last two months.

“The humanitarian situation is very bad, the situation of children in particular is very bad. We have drinking water but hardly any food or milk … [it] is awful,” he said.

“Many people have died. … The mood among the people in Rukban is below zero,” he added.

According to videos and satellite imagery obtained by Amnesty International, there appear to be at least two makeshift grave sites at the berm, though the organization doesn’t have a firm number of the dead.

“Directly or indirectly forcing refugees to return to Syria … is a flagrant violation of Jordan’s international obligations,” Amnesty International’s Hassan said. “The authorities must allow unfettered humanitarian access to refugees who are trapped.”

Jordan has cited security concerns since June’s attack and Jordan’s Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammed al-Momani tells Amnesty International the area is “becoming a Daesh enclave.”

“There is no question that security is an important consideration,” said Hassan, “but protecting people in Jordan should not come at the expense of providing humanitarian assistance and protection to those desperately in need.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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Thousands of Stranded Syrians Won’t Get Aid During Cease-Fire


Posted on: September 15th, 2016 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As a cease-fire takes tenuous hold in Syria, humanitarian aid is finally within reach for more than 250,000 people sealed off in rebel-held east Aleppo. But for 75,000 Syrians stranded at the southern border between Jordan and Syria, aid remains out of reach.

By Thursday afternoon, local time, the Syrian government had failed to provide letters of permission allowing the aid trucks into Syria near Aleppo, according to the United Nations, breaching the freshly inked U.S.-Russian agreement. The U.N. Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, says hundreds of U.N. trucks are at the Turkish border crossing point of Cilvegozu, but cannot move without written permission from the government — permission, Mistura says, that Russia guaranteed earlier this week.

Twenty additional U.N. trucks have been parked in a buffer zone, awaiting assurance that it is safe to travel into Aleppo on Castello Road, the city’s main supply route. Activists inside east Aleppo tell ABC News they can see trucks waiting just outside the city.

The cease-fire has only been extended for another 48 hours, but Mistura’s special adviser was optimistic Thursday.

“We can get the permits today and they can come tomorrow morning, and it’s only the time it takes to load the trucks,” Jan Egeland told reporters in Geneva.

The Deadly Wait Continues Down South

Aleppo threatens to be the nastiest siege of the five-year conflict, but for 75,000 people stuck on the southern border between Syria and Jordan, aid has been nearby for months with no hope of delivery.

Thousands of Syrians have gathered at “the berm,” as aid agencies refer to it, between the two countries in no man’s land. And more arrive every day. According to the U.N., four in five of the Syrians are women and children.

“It’s a desperate picture for people trapped at the berm, food is running out and disease is rife,” said Tirana Hassan, crisis response director at Amnesty International. “In some cases people are suffering or even dying from preventable illnesses, simply because they are not allowed into Jordan and the authorities have blocked access for aid, medical treatment and a meaningful humanitarian response.”

Amnesty International published a grim report on the berm this week, detailing the dire situation and calling on the Jordanian authorities to open up the border immediately. The Jordanian border has long been porous, allowing in more than one million refugees, according to the Jordanian government, of which some 655,990 are registered with the U.N..

But no longer.

After seven soldiers were killed in a suicide bomb attack on June 21 near the border, Jordanian authorities sealed off the Rukban and Hadalat border crossings. Since then, aid agencies have been barred from entering the area and were allowed just one delivery by cranes of 650 metric tons of food and hygiene kits in August.

The area is dry, rocky, devoid of shade, water or vegetation, and temperatures soared above 120 degrees Fahrenheit this summer. Satellite images obtained by Amnesty International show that since the beginning of 2016, the population has skyrocketed.

There were 368 shelters at Rukban a year ago, and today, there are more than 8,295 structures.

Abu Mohamed, a refugee who has been stranded at the berm for five months, tells Amnesty International the situation has sharply declined in the last two months.

“The humanitarian situation is very bad, the situation of children in particular is very bad. We have drinking water but hardly any food or milk … [it] is awful,” he said.

“Many people have died. … The mood among the people in Rukban is below zero,” he added.

According to videos and satellite imagery obtained by Amnesty International, there appear to be at least two makeshift grave sites at the berm, though the organization doesn’t have a firm number of the dead.

“Directly or indirectly forcing refugees to return to Syria … is a flagrant violation of Jordan’s international obligations,” Amnesty International’s Hassan said. “The authorities must allow unfettered humanitarian access to refugees who are trapped.”

Jordan has cited security concerns since June’s attack and Jordan’s Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammed al-Momani tells Amnesty International the area is “becoming a Daesh enclave.”

“There is no question that security is an important consideration,” said Hassan, “but protecting people in Jordan should not come at the expense of providing humanitarian assistance and protection to those desperately in need.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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