(Amman) – New satellite imagery dated August 31, 2016, shows the dire situation for tens of thousands of Syrians stranded at the Jordanian border. The imagery shows Syrians waiting in large numbers around at least seven water distribution sites.
“These 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, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Jordan should immediately allow humanitarian agencies to resume life-saving aid deliveries to alleviate their suffering.”
Since July 2014, the Jordanian authorities have stranded tens of thousands of Syrian asylum seekers in a barren desert area inside Jordan just north of a raised sand barrier, or berm. The barrier marks the limit of a demilitarized zone, which ends several hundred meters south of the Syrian-Jordanian border.
After a June 21, 2016 attack by the extremist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS, on a nearby border post, the authorities suspended almost all aid to the approximately 70,000 people, mostly children and women, stuck there. Between August 2 and 4, the authorities lifted a limited amount of aid over the berm by crane, but since then no aid other than water has reached those in need.
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. It appears Syrian families must carry water from these distribution sites by walking over the original berm back into the demilitarized zone and to their family shelters. Human Rights Watch analysis of the satellite imagery indicates that the number and density of Syrian tent shelters at Rukban on August 31 is about the same as that recorded on June 24.