A new batch of displaced people have reached a crossing point in the Syrian desert after leaving the al-Rukban refugee camp, where thousands of civilians are stranded as foreign-sponsored Takfiri militant groups are hampering their safe exit to government-controlled areas.
Syria’s official news agency (SANA) reported that tens of evacuees from the camp arrived at the Jlaighem crossing in the eastern countryside of the central province of Homs on Wednesday afternoon. They are expected to be transported to their liberated hometowns soon.
The displaced people showed clear signs of fatigue, exhaustion and poor health due to the appalling conditions they had endured at Rukban.
The second batch of civilians from the camp reached the Jlaighem crossing on Sunday.
The first group of civilians left Rukban last week and reached government-controlled areas in Homs.
The United Nations says about 45,000 people, mostly women and children, are trapped inside Rukban, where conditions are desperate. This is while Geneva-based international aid agency Doctors Without Borders has put the number there at some 60,000.
Last October, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said people in al-Rukban had been without access to food and humanitarian aid for several months, highlighting that the tough situation was further complicated with a closed border by Jordan.
On March 6, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the United States needed the Rukban refugee camp in order to justify its illegitimate military presence in Syria.
“The fact that people are not allowed to leave [the camp] and are held hostage makes one suggest that the US needs this camp to continue justifying its illegitimate presence there,” Lavrov said at a joint press conference with Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Hamad Al Sabah in Kuwait City.
He added, “This is in line with the US policy aimed at creating something like a quasi-state on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. It does not want these territories to get back under the control of Syria’s legitimate authorities.”
“We will insist that these people are no longer held in the camp against their will,” Lavrov pointed out.
An unnamed official at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates has held US military forces and their allied militants responsible for the humanitarian crisis affecting the residents of Rukban.
“The responsibility for the humanitarian crisis of our people at the al-Rukban camp falls solely on US occupation forces and their stooges, as they have been preventing civilians’ departure by means of force and threats. This is while safe corridors have been opened for those who are willing to leave the camp,” the official was quoted by SANA as saying on February 28.
The official stressed that the Damascus government was prepared to take responsibility for securing a safe and decent return of displaced people to their hometowns.