23 Sep 2021, 08:54

62 children died in NE Syria camp this year: report

  BEIRUT, Sept 23, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Two children die every week in Al-Hol,
one of the overcrowded Syrian camps where families with suspected links to
the Islamic State group are stranded, Save the Children said Thursday.

   The charity said many countries, including EU states, were abandoning
thousands of children in their desert limbo, vulnerable to violence, fires,
malnutrition and illness.

   Save the Children said a total of 40,000 children from 60 different
countries were living in dire conditions in the camps of Roj and Al-Hol in
northeastern Syria.

   "Many of the world's richest countries have failed to bring home the
majority of their children stuck in" the two displacement camps, the group
said in a statement.

   It said 62 children had died of various causes so far this year, including
violence, disease and accidents.

   Save the Children said a total of 73 people, including two children, were
murdered in Al-Hol alone so far this year.

   The remote camps managed by the Kurdish forces that control the area were
meant to house the families of men who had been detained over suspected ties
to the Islamic State group.

   However they also hold many families who simply fled IS occupation of
their homes in Iraq and Syria. Some have been there for more than four years.

   Save the Children interviewed several children trapped behind the fences
of Al-Hol, where they live like prisoners and from which their governments
are unwilling to repatriate them.

   "I cannot endure this life any more. We do nothing but wait," said one 11-
year-old Lebanese girl who was interviewed in May and was since reportedly
killed during a failed escape attempt in a water truck.

   The charity said France had 320 children held in both camps but had only
repatriated 35. The United Kingdom has 60 and only brought four home.

   "What we are seeing here is governments simply abandoning children, who
are first and foremost victims of conflict," said Sonia Khush, director of
Save the Children's Syria response. She said 83 percent of repatriation
operations so far had been to Uzbekistan, Kosovo, Kazakhstan and Russia.

   The Kurdish authorities running the area consistently said they did not
have the capacity to organise trials for all the detained foreign suspects
nor support their families.

   France and other Western countries have been wary of the impact mass
repatriations could have on domestic security and public opinion.



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