Hundreds of children died in Syria's Al-Hol camp

'The situation is tragic': Hundreds of children died in Syria's Al-Hol camp last year
2 min read
16 January, 2020
More than 500 people, mostly children, died in 2019 at the Syrian refugee camp, with malnutrition, poor healthcare for newborns, and hypothermia the main causes of death.
The camp, run by Kurdish forces, is home to around 68,000 people. [Getty]

Around 517 people, mostly children, died in 2019 in the Syrian camp of al-Hol, which houses displaced civilians and relatives of Islamic State group fighters.

The Kurdish Red Crescent told AFP that 371 children were among those who died in the squalid tent city.

The camp, run by Kurdish forces, is home to around 68,000 people who are reliant on humanitarian assistance, especially during harsh winter months.

Malnutrition, poor healthcare for newborns, and hypothermia during harsh winter months are among the main causes of death among children, Kurdish Red Crescent spokesperson Dalal Ismail told AFP.

"The situation is tragic and the burden is huge," she said, adding that foreigners were among the children who have died.

Syrians and Iraqis form the bulk of the camp's residents.

Al-Hol is also home to thousands of foreigners, mainly relatives of IS fighters who are kept in a guarded section of the camp under the watch of security forces.

Kurdish authorities say they are holding 12,000 foreigners, including 4,000 women and 8,000 children, in three displacement camps in north-eastern Syria. The majority are being held in Al-Hol.

Jaber Mustafa, an official in the camp, said that assistance delivered by aid groups is "not enough" to address the "great suffering" of residents. 

Medicine and food baskets are among the most pressing needs, he told AFP.

The Kurdish administration in north-eastern Syria this week warned that humanitarian conditions in Al-Hol could deteriorate further after the UN Security Council on Friday voted to restrict cross-border aid.

The Yaroubiya crossing on the Iraqi border was a key entry point for UN-funded medical aid reaching north-eastern Syria, including al-Hol.

The UN had used it to deliver some medical supplies that the Syrian government had not permitted via Damascus. 

Yaroubiya's closure will disrupt "60 to 70 percent of medical assistance to al-Hol", Abdel Kader Mouwahad, director of humanitarian affairs in the autonomous Kurdish administration, told AFP.

This leaves Syria's Kurds with the unofficial Zamalka crossing with Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, which is not used for UN aid.

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