At least 517 inhabitants – mostly children – of the famed Al-Hol camp which houses relatives of detained Daesh fighters in northern Syria, have died throughout 2019, the Kurdish Red Crescent reported.
The Kurdish-run camp, which hosts around 68,000 people reliant on humanitarian aid and assistance, has long been deemed to be above capacity and in need of urgent care. The worsening conditions in the camp such as poor sanitation, malnutrition and illness, have resulted in the deaths of 371 children among the 517 dead overall, according to the Kurdish Red Crescent spokesperson, Dalal Ismail, reporting to French news agency, AFP, yesterday.
The cold and harsh winter months proved to be one of the most prominent factors in the deaths, resulting in diseases such as hypothermia.
“The situation is tragic and the burden is huge,” Ismail informed, adding that even though the majority of the inhabitants are Syrians and Iraqis, foreigners have also been amongst those who died.
Foreigners make up thousands of the camp’s residents, and are largely relatives of Daesh fighters who went to join the so-called ‘caliphate’ in its glory days, prior to the military defeat of the group over the past two years.
The Daesh relatives are reportedly kept in a guarded section of the camp and are under the observation of security forces of the Kurdish-led militias, such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Kurdish forces allege that they are holding up to around 12,000 foreigners, consisting of 4,000 women and 8,000 children, throughout three camps in north-east Syria. The majority of them, however, are being held at the Al-Hol camp.
There is also an issue with the amount of aid and assistance being sent to the camp, with an official in the camp named Jaber Mustafa, stating that the supplies delivered by aid groups is “not enough” to deal with the “great suffering” of the camp’s inhabitants. Among the supplies which are the most urgently required are medicine and food baskets.
The situation does not look to improve in the near future, however, particularly following the vote by the United Nations Security Council last week to severely limit the cross-border aid able to reach the displaced people.