Texas- Escalating fighting in the ISIL held Hajin region of Deir Ez Zor has led to the massive displacement of over 10,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to the Al Hol refugee camp in Hassakeh this week. UNHCR reported over 35 children and infants have died from hypothermia and malnourishment since December on the journey or at the camp. More than 23,000 IDPs, mostly women and children, have fled to the Al Hol camp since December, overwhelming the camp originally designed for a third of the current capacity.
The IDPs are arriving malnourished, wounded, and ill with hypothermia and other sicknesses from a prolonged lack of food and medical attention in Hajin. The number of IDPs and casualties is expected to rise dramatically in the coming weeks. UOSSM asks for all actors in the conflict to ensure safe passage of IDPs from Hajin to Al Hol, and for emergency medical stations to be given access along the route in addition to food, water and warm clothing distribution. Failure to do so will cause incalculable suffering and death.
UOSSM condemns the restriction of movement of IDPs and the practice of identity document confiscation, further complicating a very desperate situation.
Dr. Khaula Sawah, Vice President of UOSSM USA said, “We are deeply disturbed by the news we are receiving about the horrific journey of the IDPs, and the senseless deaths of 35 children. Most of the IDPs are women and children fleeing from indiscriminate airstrikes in freezing cold temperatures. The UNHCR has done amazing work under dire circumstances to accommodate these refugees, and for that we commend them. We hope more can be done to help these people.”