The UN expresses concern at the “deterioration of security conditions” in the camp for displaced persons controlled by Kurdish forces.
Twelve people have been murdered in the overcrowded al-Hol camp for internally displaced persons in northeastern Syria since the start of the year, according to United Nations figures.
Imran Riza, UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, and Muhannad Hadi, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syrian Crisis, expressed concerns over what they called “deteriorating security conditions” at the camp. al-Hol.
From January 1 to 16, “the UN received reports of the murder of 12 Syrian and Iraqi residents of the camps, including an Iraqi refugee. Another person was seriously injured in a violent attack, ”UN officials said in a statement Thursday evening.
The circumstances of the reported killings were unclear.
Al-Hol camp is located in an area controlled by the Kurds of Syria and is home to internal refugees and families of ISIS (ISIS) fighters.
It is the largest camp in the war-torn country, with more than 60,000 people, according to UN figures.
More than 80% of its inhabitants are women and children. Aid agencies have long complained about the inhumane conditions in the overcrowded camp.
“The recent rise in violence among the camp population not only represents a tragic loss of life, but also compromises the ability of the UN and humanitarian partners to continue to safely provide humanitarian assistance and essential services to residents, ”the statement read.
Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, called on the authorities who control security in the camp “to ensure the safety of residents but also of aid workers”.
“All of this delivery is put at risk when the level of security reaches what we see now,” Laerke said at a UN briefing in Geneva on Friday.
Thousands of former ISIS supporters, including German nationals, are also being held in al-Hol.
The UN reported last year that several children died there. The reasons varied from complications resulting from malnutrition, diarrhea or internal bleeding.
Sonia Khush, director of Save the Children, told Al Jazeera that the organization noted an increase in attacks from August of last year and that they increased further in 2021.
“Whether it’s for ideological reasons, personal conflict, crime or a combination of the three, the effect on humanitarian services is what concerns us,” Khush said.
“According to our information, these attacks are mainly carried out by men. They happen in broad daylight. In one case, a well in our school was hit by 10 stray bullets. In another more recent incident, one of our school tents partially burned down.
She called on the camp authorities to consider providing protection to residents, especially children in the camp.
“They need a safe place to live. Camps are not natural places for children to grow up, ”she said.
“The fact that they are in a camp for so long makes it all the more important that they have the chance to learn and to be educated and to stay safe.”