Syria: the children of the Al-Hol jihadist detention camp, “a lost generation”, according to Médecins sans Frontières

It’s a “lost generation”, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The NGO underlined Monday, November 7 the fate “tragic” children from the Al-Hol camp in Syria, where the families of the jihadists are detained, who lack health care and live in violence. In a report, MSF calls for the closure of this camp and believes that the international anti-jihadist coalition and the countries whose nationals are detained “have failed in their obligations”.

The Al-Hol camp is “a huge open-air prison, the majority of whose inmates are children, often born in the camp, deprived of their childhood and condemned to be exposed to violence and exploitation, with limited access to healthcare, without education and hopeless”laments the head of MSF operations in Syria, Martine Flokstra.

Half of the camp population is under 12

Under Kurdish administration, the dilapidated and overcrowded Al-Hol camp is home to more than 50,000 relatives of jihadists after the defeat of the Islamic State group, displaced Syrians and Iraqi refugees. Among them are more than 10,000 foreigners from around 60 countries, including French and other Europeans, housed separately in a part of the camp called the “Annex”.

According to MSF, the population of Al-Hol is 64% children, and 50% of the camp is under 12 years old. “We have seen and heard many tragic stories”in this camp, deplores Martine Flokstra. “Children who died after waiting too long for emergency medical help, stories of young boys torn from their mothers when they turned 11, never to be seen again”she explains.

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Western countries refuse to repatriate their citizens

In 2021 alone, 79 children died, according to the NGO, which specifies that children represented 35% of the total number of deaths in the camp in 2021. Some were killed in violent incidents, in particular in shootings in the camp where attacks on guards or aid workers are common.

Despite repeated exhortations from the Kurdish administration, most Western countries refuse to repatriate their citizens from these camps, contenting themselves with repatriations in dribs and drabs for fear of possible terrorist acts on their soil.

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