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Amnesty International: Children in al-Hol camp are living in tragic conditions

Amnesty International stated in a report that dozens of thousands of children in al-Hol camp northeastern Syria have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty and exposed to inhumane and live-threatening conditions.

The organization noted that doubts surround their future as governments continue to show unwillingness to repatriate them.

The organization’s report highlighted the suffering of children detained in al-Hol camp, which is run by the Syrian Democratic Forces, and the deterioration in health and educational services.

 The organization noted that over the past two years, children living in the camp have not had proper access to food, clean water and essential services such as health care and education..

The organization explained that the Syrian Democratic Forces continue to arbitrarily detain twelve-year-old boys, , separating two-year-old children from their caregivers, and curtailing access to healthcare .Increased child labor, violence and murder have severely impacted the growth and development of children.

“Tens of thousands of children from Syria, Iraq and over 60 other countries, have been abandoned to misery, trauma and death simply because their governments are refusing to assume their responsibilities and bring these children back to a safe and secure environment,” said Diana Semaan, Amnesty International’s Syria researcher.

Samaan stressed the need for “governments to stop disregarding their international human rights obligations to defend the right of these children to life, survival, and development, and to return them without delay and urgently to their homes.”

She added, “The Syrian Democratic Forces must establish a clear mechanism to return Syrian children and their mothers or caregivers.”

Amnesty International interviewed 10 individuals with knowledge of the situation in the camps, including eight eyewitnesses, who described the precarious conditions in al-Hol as well as abuses by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which runs the camp and has effective control over north-east Syria.

Since 2019 when the conflict with the armed group Islamic State in Syria ended, around 60,000 Syrians, Iraqis and third country nationals, mostly women and children, have been detained in al-Hol camp without access to due process, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The camp houses individuals with varying degrees of affiliation with the IS, but also thousands of individuals with no association at all who flocked to the camp fleeing the conflict.

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