BEIRUT – The U.N. and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent on Wednesday completed a desperately needed aid delivery to displaced Syrians in a remote desert camp near the border with Jordan.
Fadwa Abed Rabbou Baroud, of the U.N. Office of the Resident Coordinator, said the delivery to the Rukban camp included a month's worth of food, as well as medicine, clothes and vaccinations.
Nearly 50,000 people are stranded in the desert and had received no aid since January. At least four people have died in the past month due to malnutrition and extremely limited access to medical care.
The Syrian government and its ally Russia have blamed U.S. troops stationed nearby for failing to provide security for aid shipments, allegations denied by the Americans. Jordan closed the border over security concerns.
Also on Wednesday, a Palestinian official said Syrian President Bashar Assad has instructed the government to start taking measures for the return of civilians to the refugee camp of Yarmouk in the capital Damascus.
Yarmouk, the largest refugee camp and once a home to tens of thousands, suffered massive destruction during the seven-year conflict and hardly a building is not damaged in the sprawling camp south of Damascus. Until earlier this year, large parts of it were controlled by the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked fighters.
Khaled Abdul-Majid, secretary of the follow-up committee of the Damascus-based allied Palestinian factions, told The Associated Press that the decision reflects the Syrian government's commitment to support the Palestinian cause.
Abdul-Majid said that he was informed of the decision on Monday, noting that there were around 200,000 Palestinians in the camp before the crisis, in addition to around 1 million Syrians who were settling in and around the camp.
He said the reconstruction process would be fulfilled by the Syrian government, the Palestinian Authority, other Palestinian groups and Palestinian businessmen.
Abdul-Majid stressed that several neighborhoods in the camp, about 40 percent of it, are still habitable, adding that around 40 percent of the camp needs to be restored and 20 percent is totally destroyed.
He indicated that around 160,000 Palestinians left Syria during the crisis out of 650,000, who were residing in camps nationwide.