Kurdish-led authorities said on Monday up to 15,000 Syrians could be moved out of the overcrowded Al-Hawl camp in northeast Syria which holds displaced people and families of Daesh fighters.
Kurdish fighters have seized much of northern and eastern Syria from Daesh with US backing. They have since held thousands of militants in prisons, while their wives and children – numbering tens of thousands, many of them foreigners – are living in camps.
Al-Hawl camp alone houses nearly 65,000 people, including about 28,000 Syrians, 30,000 Iraqis, and some 10,000 other foreigners of many nationalities, according to UN estimates.
"A decision will be issued to empty the Syrians from the camp completely," said Kurdish leader Ilham Ahmed in a video published by the Syrian Democratic Council, the political arm of the Kurdish-led SDF forces holding the region.
"Those who want to remain in the camp, this would not be the responsibility of the administration."
UNICEF said in August eight children had died in Al-Hawl, where it said children from 60 countries were languishing and COVID-19 infections among camp workers had worsened conditions.
Badran Jia Kurd, a vice president of the Kurdish-led authority that runs the SDF region, said some Syrians had already left the camp and that the process would be sped up.
He cited a need to reduce the burden on the camp and step up measures to curb security incidents which he said had risen.