UN seeks access to Syria’s Rukban for evacuation

United Nations: The UN has said it wants to do more to help the people of Rukban in Syria — those who fled and those are still there — if granted full access.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, on Monday expressed the world organisation’s willingness to engage more directly if granted full access, Xinhua news agency reported.

The UN is providing limited support to the evacuees through the Red Crescent, including food, nutrition, water, hygiene kits, and medical services. The UN has not been granted access to the shelters, he told a regular briefing.

On Sunday, 1,433 people left Rukban, Dujarric said, adding that more than half of them were children.

“This is the fifth group of people who’ve left Rukban in the past three weeks,” he said. “To date, more than 3,600 people have exited Rukban camp for shelters in and around Homs city. Nearly 1,200 have left shelters to stay with relatives.”

Aiding in the exodus from Rukban is in line with the results of a survey carried out by the UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent in February, in which 95 per cent of the people surveyed expressed a desire to leave, he said. At the same time, those polled expressed significant protection concerns.

“Our humanitarian colleagues add that over the past four days, 10 people have been killed and 20 people have been injured, in hostilities and explosions in Aleppo, Idleb and Hama Governorates in the northwest part of the country,” the spokesman said.

“We call again on all parties to the conflict to cease all violence and remind them of their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law,” he said.