Yesterday, one of you asked a question about the Al Hol camp, and our humanitarian colleagues are telling us that they are very concerned about the plight of more than 64,000 people living in challenging humanitarian conditions in the Al Hol camp in the north-east, particularly women and children who make up about 94 per cent of the camp’s population. There are around 34,000 children under the age of 12 in Al Hol. More than 120 of them are unaccompanied or separated from their families and living in an interim care centre in the camp.
Conditions in Al Hol are difficult by any measure. In the past month, humanitarians have expressed alarm at the deteriorating security situation in the camp following a rise in violent incidents. In addition, four cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed so far. Testing is relatively limited, and a wider outbreak remains a significant risk. We, along with our humanitarian partners, are providing comprehensive assistance to the camp, the UN stresses that this cannot be a substitute for durable solutions for all the residents. In the past two months, more than 1,000 people are reported to have left the camp. There have also been reports of plans by local authorities to expedite and increase departures of displaced Syrian families in the coming months. Any departures must be voluntary, safe, fully informed and dignified, and in the best interests of the children.