Medical staff and humanitarian organizations working at the northeastern al-Hol camp warn of a Covid-19 outbreak in the largest overcrowded camp of its kind in Syria, which suffers from a shortage of medical supplies.
During a press briefing, spokesman of UN Sec-Gen Stephane Dujarric expressed concern about the situation of the estimated 60,000 people living in the camp, most of whom are women and children.
“We are particularly concerned about the rising cases of the COVID-19 virus across Syria, including in the camp,” stressed Dujarric.
He said the humanitarian organizations are supporting contact tracing, recognizing that a wider outbreak could be devastating to the already vulnerable state of the families in the camp.
Dujarric stressed that long-term, durable solutions are needed for all the residents of the camp, whether they be Syrian, Iraqi, or from another country, noting that any return to a third country must also be voluntary, safe, fully informed, and dignified.
“We further emphasize the need for full and regular humanitarian access to the camp so that all 60,000 plus residents continue to receive essential services.”
He noted that more than 31,000 children live in the camp, which is “not a place a child should grow up in.”
Meanwhile, the camp administration announced an increase in coronavirus cases, saying the virus is spreading with eight deaths and 39 positive cases recorded last month.
Administrator Jaber Mustafa pointed out that it has been difficult to control and administer the camp amid the spread of coronavirus amid a wave of violence.
“Most of the residents are children and women who move a lot between tents,” Mustafa said of his concerns for contagion.
Furthermore, the medical leader of Kurdish Red Crescent teams working in al-Hol, Mahmoud al-Ali, said that since the outbreak of the pandemic, the camp has been quarantined as civilians are not allowed in, and residents can’t leave as part of the preventive measures.
He pointed out that they organized sterilization and awareness campaigns, noting that the organization seeks to increase the number of its medical and specialized staff in the camp to provide health services.