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Report: Children make up 80% of deaths in Syria camp

A Syrian girl at a refugee camp in Aleppo, Syria on 29 August 2019 [Esra Hacıoğlu/Anadolu Agency]
A Syrian girl at a refugee camp in Aleppo, Syria on 29 August 2019 [Esra Hacıoğlu/Anadolu Agency]

Children make up over 80 per cent of deaths at northern Syria’s Al-Hawl refugee camp, a report by the International Rescue Committee has revealed.

The NGO said it “has been extremely concerned about the deaths of children arriving” at the camp, adding that “between December and September 1st, 339 deaths of children were recorded – over 80% of the total deaths in Al Hol camp to date.”

The IRC’s most recent data reveals that a third of these deaths have occurred in tents, with children not even reaching health facilities.

The main causes being recorded are severe malnutrition with complications, diarrhoea with dehydration and pneumonia – a proxy indicator of poor health conditions upon arrival and poor access to humanitarian assistance.

It added that women are “regularly forced to give birth alone in their tents”.

READ: 1,089 civilians killed in Syria over 4 months

Warning about the fate of those forced to live in the camp, IRC’s Middle East Policy, Advocacy and Communications Director, Misty Buswell, said: “The fates of the 70,000 people in Al Hol who lived an appalling existence under ISIS [Daesh] are uncertain; foreigners face even more uncertainty as few countries are willing to repatriate their citizens- threatening to create a generation of stateless children with no prospects or hope for a future.”

Among the kids who have died in Al-Hawl is the newborn son of British citizen Shamima Begum.

Begum’s son, Jerah, was born on 17 February 2019. She named him after her first son, who died before she reached Syria’s Al-Hawl refugee camp. Begum was later moved from the camp after she received death threatens from Daesh operatives for speaking to the media.

The 19-year-old travelled to Syria from the UK with two of her friends in 2015 to join the terror group in Raqqa. There she married a Dutch fighter and gave birth to two children, both of whom have since passed away.

READ: The dilemma of captured Daesh fighters and abandoned children? Who is responsible?

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