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UN Calls Upon Kurdish Authorities to Ensure Safety of Al-Hol Residents, Relief Workers

UN Calls Upon Kurdish Authorities to Ensure Safety of Al-Hol Residents, Relief Workers

Saturday, 23 January, 2021 - 09:15
Boys walk around at Al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria (Reuters)

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (Rojava) admitted that security conditions deteriorated at Al-Hol camp in al-Hasakah governorate.

The administration indicated that it had repeatedly warned the United Nations and the concerned organizations about the situation in the camp which houses tens of thousands of people, some of whom are ISIS family members.

This came in response to the statement issued by Jens Laerke, the spokesperson for the United Nations humanitarian office (UNOCHA), in which he stressed the need to ensure the safety of the camp’s residents and aid workers.

“We remain concerned about the deteriorating security conditions at Al-Hol camp, the largest camp for refugees and internally displaced people in Syria,” said Laerke in a press briefing.

The spokesman said that the international organization received press reports stating that 12 Syrian and Iraqi camp residents were killed in the first half of January.

He asserted that all parties must ensure the protection of camp residents and access for humanitarian workers, warning that the recent rise in violence among the camp population jeopardizes the ability of the UN and humanitarian parties to continue to deliver critical humanitarian assistance and services to the residents.

The head of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) office for internally displaced persons and refugees, Sheikhmous Ahmed, noted that the UN is “late” in issuing its statement.

He indicated that the Administration has repeatedly appealed to the UN and all concerned organizations regarding the deteriorating security situation in the camp.

Ahmed also noted that the Iraqi government has not responded to appeals to allow over 30,000 Iraqi refugees to return home.

He pointed out that over 20,000 displaced Syrians, most of whom are from areas under regime control, refuse to return for political reasons and fear of security prosecution, arrest, and torture.

The Kurdish official admitted that the security guards of the camp lack the needed means and equipment to protect the residents and international aid workers.

He also indicated that the security forces can’t enter the camp at night for safety reasons due to the presence of active cells affiliated with ISIS.

Syrian and Iraqi residents refuse to cooperate with the security forces in uncovering crimes, which increases the risks and challenges, according to Ahmed.

Ahmed called on the UN and international and humanitarian organizations to provide the necessary support for the return of Iraqi refugees and displaced Syrians and pressure Western and Arab governments to take back their citizens.

“We also demand the provision of security logistical equipment to help the security forces control the camp.”

He also called for establishing a special international court for suspects belonging to ISIS.

Since the beginning of the year, about 13 displaced Syrians and Iraqi persons were killed in the camp, while 40 people were killed last year, most of whom were of Iraqi nationality.

Al-Hol camp houses 62,000 Syrians and Iraqis and has a special section for 11,000 women and their children of 50 Western and Arab nationalities.

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