Syrian Refugees Stranded at Jordanian Border Said to Be Living in Dire Conditions

Following an ISIS attack on a nearby border post, almost all aid to an encampment home to some 70,000 people has been suspended.

People gather to receive aid at the Rukban refugee camp on the Jordan-Syria border on August 4, 2016.
AP

Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees stranded at the Jordanian border are living in increasingly dire conditions, Human Rights Watch warned on Wednesday.

"The latest satellite images confirm that the humanitarian crisis at the Rukban encampment has not been resolved, and appears to be getting worse," said Nadim Houry, HRW's deputy Middle East director.

"Jordan should immediately allow humanitarian agencies to resume life-saving aid deliveries to alleviate their suffering," the watchdog said.

The Jordanian authorities have declared the area a military zone after an attack by the Islamic State on a nearby border post on June 21. Since then, almost all aid to the approximately 70,000 people, mostly women and children, stuck there, has been suspended.

The HRW analysis of the satellite imagery indicates that the number and density of Syrian tent shelters at Rukban on August 31 has not changed since June 24.

The Jordanian authorities have stranded tens of thousands of Syrian asylum seekers in a desolate desert area north of a raised sand barrier, or berm, since July 2014.

The barrier marks the limit of a demilitarized zone, which ends several hundred meters south of the Syrian-Jordanian border.

"Over the summer, humanitarian workers appear to have modified the location of water distribution sites following the government's decision to restrict humanitarian aid. These sites are located in Jordan proper, outside the demilitarized zone and between two berms," HRW said.

Jordan currently hosts 655,217 of the 4.6 million Syrians registered with the UN Refugee Agency since the civil war broke out about five years ago.