At least 15 Syrian displaced children, 13 under the age of one, have died in the past few weeks due to extreme cold, harsh living conditions, and lack of access to medical care. According to the UN, at least eight of those deaths are of children in the Rukban camp near the Syrian-Jordanian border.
UNICEF says the key factors leading to the deaths are extreme cold and lack of access to medical care for young infants and women, who are almost half of the population.
Severe weather has also wreaked havoc on refugee camps in Northern Syria and Lebanon as torrential rains and heavy snow have caused flooding inside makeshift homes not built to withstand extreme weather. A third snow storm is forecasted for Arsaal (Lebanon). And Atma (Northern Syria) is under another rainstorm causing more flooding.
With temperatures below freezing, inadequate access to medical care, and malnutrition on the rise, UOSSM is deeply concerned with the plight of the tens of thousands of refugees and calls on the international community to step in and allow aid convoys into Rukban camp. The last UN aid convoy to enter the area was in early November.
Dr. Hussam Al Fakir, Chair of UOSSM International said, “We are deeply concerned with the alarming number of preventable deaths we are witnessing. It is unacceptable to know that lives could have been saved if aid and medical care was allowed in. History will record this inaction as a crime. We implore the international community to step in and move refugees to adequate shelters in Northern/Southern Syria/ Lebanon, ensure they have appropriate clothing and medical care, and allow aid convoys into the Rukban camp immediately.
It is our obligation to help these people, who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in their unimaginable circumstances.”