Wives of Islamic state fighters (IS) walk with their children upon their deportation from the al-Hol camp for refugees in al-Hasakah governorate in northeastern Syria on June 3, 2019. EPA/AHMED MARDNLI
Wives of Islamic state fighters (IS) walk with their children upon their deportation from the al-Hol camp for refugees in al-Hasakah governorate in northeastern Syria on June 3, 2019. EPA/AHMED MARDNLI

The Al-Hol refugee camp in Syria is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster, according to Italian NGO "Un Ponte Per", which is one of the few international organizations on the ground. The camp hosts people who have fled the most recent fighting against ISIS.

The Al-Hol refugee camp in northern Syria near the Syria-Iraq border is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster, Italian NGO "Un Ponte Per..." (UPP) has said. The NGO, one of a few international organizations on the ground, stressed that a reported 64,000 people have traveled to the camp in less than four months, between December 2018 and March 2019. The camp hosted some 9,000 people before December last year, the organization said in the statement. 


The fast and sudden increase of the camp's population is a direct consequence of the last battles against ISIS in Syria, in particular in the area of Baghouz. Thousands have fled, leading to an escalation of humanitarian and healthcare emergencies, said UPP. 

The emergency 

The NGO has reported that over the last few months, some 60,000 women and children have arrived at the camp, including 30,000 kids under 12 and nearly 600 affected by acute malnutrition. An average of two deaths a day have been reported at the camp due to diseases which could be treated under different conditions, the NGO said. 

In order to respond to the new humanitarian crisis, the Italian NGO, which has been present in Syria since 2015, is working in close cooperation with the Kurdish Red Crescent (Heyva Sor a Kurd). The two organizations have opened four health centers. The centers are open around the clock seven days a week with ambulance and emergency services. 

An awareness campaign 

Domenico Chirico, the director of the organization's programs who has just returned from Syria, said the "situation is dramatic". The situation at the camp, including the scarcity of safe drinking water and inadequate hygienic services, "cause the most widespread diseases that we have to treat", he said.

"Unfortunately, we have to report that the entire international mobilization to support humanitarian intervention in Syria is insufficient to respond to the real needs" on the ground, Chirico also said. The significant increase of the camp's population has made it difficult to manage the facility: "The number of people is too high and only NGOs are dealing with the situation", stressed Chirico. UPP has launched an awareness campaign to raise funds for its activities. 
 

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