In 2019more than 500 people – mostly children – died in the Al-Hol refugee camp in Syria, where tens of thousands of internally displaced people (IDP), including relatives of the Islamic State’s jihadist fighters, a local official announced to AFP.
Malnutrition and lack of medical care for premature babies are among the leading causes of death in this camp, which is run by Kurdish authorities in North-eastern Syria, said Dalal Ismail, Head of the Kurdish Red Crescent at Al-Hol.
The camp hosts about 68,000 people who are living in precarious conditions and are entirely dependent on humanitarian aid.
It is mainly there that IS-affiliated foreign women and children were sent after their evacuation from the last bastion of the jihadist group, after it was reconquered by Kurdish forces in March 2019.
“The number of deaths in the camp in 2019 is 517, including 371 children,” Ismail said to an AFP team which was visiting the Al-Hol camp last Tuesday.
“The situation is catastrophic, and it is a very heavy burden,” she said, adding that many children died during the winter “because of the cold and the lack of adequate heating.”
There are also foreigners among the dead children, she said.
The camp hosts mostly Syrians and Iraqis.
In total, some 12,000 foreigners, of which 4,000 women and 8,000 children, are placed in three IDP camps in the North-east, the vast majority in Al Hol, according to statistics from Kurdish authorities.