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Friday 5 June 2020

Rukban camp: A child in need of urgent medical attention

Urgent medical attention for a child with bleeding – Rukban camp

To: The Rt Hon James Cleverly, Minister of State for Middle East and Africa
David Ashley, Head of Syria Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

We are writing to you to express our grave concern about a five-year-old child, in Rukban camp, with suspected severe inflammation (glomerulonephritis) in the kidneys. This condition is fatal if not treated immediately. Your help in March saved the lives of two pregnant women and their babies who were delivered at the US base. All that is needed to save this child’s life is one single medication - this medication can be easily provided via the US base. We urge you to help save this child’s life.

Only a few days ago, seven-day-old Noor tragically died of dehydration. Noor’s life could have been saved by one doctor and a couple of bags of IV fluids. Rukban camp has no access to health services. Residents have been barred from access to the UNICEF clinic since Jordan closed its border and since then have been left without medical care.

We have written to the UK government multiple times warning about the imminent but preventable risk of loss of lives if no access to emergency healthcare is provided. Noor’s death was avoidable, and the death of this child currently suffering with severe kidney inflammation can certainly be prevented if medication can be provided.

Rukban camp is inside a 55-kilometre radius zone around Tanf base controlled by Coalition forces, including the Royal Air Force.

The UK government’s involvement in Tanf, its position in the Coalition, and its close relationship with both the Jordanian and United states governments, not only give it the opportunity to act but make the duty to act inescapable.

The military control of Tanf is part of a Coalition operation in Syria which claims legal justification under Article 51 of the UN Charter as collective self-defence of Iraq, as set out in a letter to the UN Secretary General on 23 September 2014 from then US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power.

We therefore ask you as a matter of urgency:
  • To provide temporary access to healthcare services for the residents until the Jordanian border re-opens.
  • To provide medication for this child and facilitate blood tests to save his life.

Multiple human rights and humanitarian aid organisations have condemned the situation in Rukban camps; a woman and three children have died in the past 18 months due to lack of access to medical care, but the death of Noor a few days ago raises the death toll to four children now.

We call on you to act immediately to provide emergency healthcare services to avoid the death of more children.

Dr Batool Abdulkareem, Syria Solidarity UK
Bronwen Griffiths, Syria Solidarity UK
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, Doctors Under Fire


Rukban camp: A case study in reviewing the UK’s protection of civilians strategy
By Dr Kate Ferguson, Protection Approaches, June 2019.

The UK is complicit in a crime against humanity at Rukban camp
Syria Solidarity UK report, April 2019.