Two babies have died after an illness in the past week at a camp for internally displaced people on the Syrian border with Jordan, as the United Nations children’s agency reiterates calls for humanitarian access to the camp.
The deaths took place in Rukban camp, which lies in an inhospitable stretch of desert.
“Another sad week for children and families in Rukban. Two sick babies under six months old died in Rukban,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, on Thursday.
“Freezing temperatures and lack of supplies including of basic commodities, threaten the lives of nearly 45,000 people – among them many children, leaving them at the risk of disease and death,” he said in a statement.
Last month the UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent announced the first delivery of humanitarian aid to Rukban in 10 months.
Civilians trapped in the camp face the risk of starvation amid a deteriorating humanitarian situation after Jordan sealed its border following an attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group on its soldiers.
Soon afterwards, the army declared Jordan’s desert regions that stretch northeast to Syria and east to Iraq “closed military zones”.
Amman believes responsibility for the camp lies with Damascus since it is inside Syrian territory.
Syria has been embroiled in a civil war that killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.