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A dozen refugees murdered in northeast Syria camp amid deteriorating security, says UN

Women, reportedly wives and members of Daesh, walk under the supervision of a female fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) at Al-Hol camp in Syria on 17 February 2019 [BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images]
Women, reportedly wives and members of Daesh, walk under the supervision of a female fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) at Al-Hol camp in Syria on 17 February 2019 [BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images]

The United Nations has reported the murder of 12 inhabitants of a displacement camp for Daesh family members, highlighting the "deteriorating security conditions" in the camps of northeast Syria.

According to UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric yesterday, 12 Syrian and Iraqi residents at the infamous Al-Hol camp were murdered since the beginning of this year to 16 January. Among those killed were a female Iraqi refugee.

Speaking at the UN headquarters in New York, Dujarric said that "these disturbing events indicate an increasingly untenable security environment at Al-Hol."

He noted that such an instable situation would "also jeopardise the UN and the UN's humanitarian partners' ability to safely deliver critical humanitarian assistance to its residents."

The displacement camps in northeast Syria such as Al-Hol and Roj, which are run by the Kurdish militias of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Peoples' Protection Units (YPG), host refugees and family members of former fighters of the terror group Daesh.

READ: Women, children smuggled out of Syria refugee camp

While many of those detained in the camps are foreigners who travelled to Syria to join the group a few years after the Syrian revolution broke out, Syrians and Iraqis make up the bulk of the camps' inhabitants. Al-Hol camp alone is reported to be home to around 62,000 people.

Although Daesh has largely been militarily and territorially defeated, there are concerns that the camps hold those who remain sympathetic to the group's cause and ideology, raising fears that they are becoming hotbeds of extremism and a potential revival of Daesh.

Those fears are made worse by the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the camp, which caused the deaths of over 500 inhabitants of Al-Hol in 2019.

On Wednesday, UN Aid Chief Mark Lowcock urged the Kurdish militias' authorities to improve the conditions of the camps, citing the fact that most detainees are children under the age of 12 who are "growing up in unacceptable conditions" amid a "surge in violent incidents."

Lowcock stated that "The responsibility for security inside the camp rests with local authorities. Security must be provided in a manner that does not endanger residents or violate their rights, and that does not restrict humanitarian access."

READ: Kurdish militants fire on Syrian children while trying to recruit them forcibly

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