October 1, 2013
Last month, reports surfaced detailing the plight of tens of thousands of internally displaced Syrians trapped in the southern province of Daraa, unable to cross the border into the northern Jordanian city of Ramtha.
As the refugee influx slowed from thousands per day in February and March to hundreds per day in July through September, most refugees have arrived to Jordan through a treacherous, weeks-long journey in the eastern desert. The Jordanian government has maintained that intensified violence in the city between Daraa and Ramtha has prevented Syrians from fleeing to Jordan. Last week, a source in the Daraa Media Office told Syria Direct that the border is closed.
Abdulrahman al-Masri spoke with Lebanon-based Human Rights Watch researcher Lama Fakih about the humanitarian situation at the border for Daraa’s residents and internally displaced.
Q: What is the humanitarian situation in Daraa today?
A: The border areas that are under opposition control do not receive enough aid. The Syrian government is preventing the UN and other organizations from reaching these areas and providing aid.
Q: Do you have any information about the number of individuals displaced inside Daraa? What are the hardships they face?
A: We cannot determine an exact number, because we are not there on the ground. But there are a large number of displaced people. An insufficient amount of aid is reaching these people. According to our reports, there is not enough food for these people and doctors face hardships reaching them.
The Jordanian government says that its borders are open, but our reporters are saying that the border is closed and only opens in emergencies.
Q: How is the relationship between the civilians and the FSA in the areas under opposition control? Are the rebels assaulting the civilians?
A: It is normal that those groups face differences between them. I don’t think that the Free Syrian Army is assaulting [them], however the war is known for these military occurrences, and not civility. As far as the interviews and research we’ve done with families, there have been no assaults by the rebels.
*Photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch.