The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Syria said on February 28th that the humanitarian situation in Al-Hole camp continues to rapidly evolve with as many as 3,500 people arriving from the last Isis-held areas of the east Syria village of Baghouz, in Deir ez-Zor province within a day.
A key manager of the ongoing evacuation is the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). They are helping empty the area of civilians before launching a final offensive against ISIS terror remnants. Earlier this week, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a total of about 1,400 people had left Baghouz, including dozens of suspected Isis fighters.
Most Syrians evacuating Baghouz are heading to Al-Hole camp in the eastern al-Hasakah province, north-eastern Syria. During the Syrian Civil War, Al-Hole region was initially seized by Isis terrorists but was later recaptured by SDF units in 2015.
According to the OCHA, Al-Hole’s total camp population stands at around 54,500 – 90% of them being women and children. Evacuation from Baghouz village is ongoing, with a further 3,000-4,000 civilians expected to be brought to Al-Hole camp over the coming days.
The sudden and large-scale influx has compounded already difficult conditions on the ground. Currently, around 10,000 people are being accommodated in large-sized tents as well as in communal service buildings and reception areas. Despite the considerable relief effort, shelter, health, and protection needs remain the most pressing, with the physical and psychological well-being of especially vulnerable groups of particular concern.
Those arriving at Al Hole, in particular young children and pregnant women, are in dire condition, having had limited access to health and other essential services in the Hajin area and following their long and tiring journey. As of February 27th, there are reports of at least 84 deaths, two-thirds of them children under five years of age, either en route or shortly after arrival at the camp, mainly due to hypothermia.
Towards the end of the report OHCA stressed the need for additional financial resources, saying it is urgently required in order to meet the needs of all new arrivals in Al-Hole and ensure a sustained response inside the camp to the needs of its entire population.