Flash Update 5: Syria: Humanitarian Response in Al Hol camp as of March 4, 2019

Situation Report
Originally published



  • Al Hol camp population stands at 56,002 individuals of which more than 90 per cent are women and children. Between February 22 and March 1, approximately 15,000 people reached Al Hol camp from Baghouz in southeastern Deir-Er-Zour. At the time of writing, on March 4, hundreds of people are expected to arrive in the camp at daybreak on March 5.

  • New arrivals have been provided with NFI kits and winterization items and are now hosted in family-size and communal tents in phase 5, 7 and the annex of the camp.

  • Most pressing needs remain shelter, WASH, health and protection, with physical and psychological health, particularly of vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, children and elderly people, of special concern. Follow-up on the numerous cases of unaccompanied and separated children remains a priority.

  • The saturation in the waiting and reception areas continues to affect particularly the most vulnerable, with a special concern for the elderly and persons with disabilities.

  • Despite large waves of arrivals, sufficient tents have been established to prevent anyone staying out in the open.

  • Response capacity at the Suar transit-center, en route to Al Hol, remains on stand-by. Four big-size tents are in place and health teams and partners are ready to provide life-saving assistance and services if needed.

Humanitarian Impact

  • As of March 3, 90 deaths have been reported; two thirds of them children under the age of five. The deaths have, either occurred en route, shortly after arriving at the camp or after referral for treatment. The main causes are hypothermia, pneumonia, dehydration or malnutrition complications.

  • Families arriving in Al Hol camp have been without access to health and other essential services for a long period of time and are therefore in a fragile state, compounded by the fatigue of the journey to the camp.

  • 150 diarrhoea cases have been reported in phase 7, as of 28 February.

  • 99 unaccompanied children have been identified en route or in the camp; 23 have been united with their families. Family tracing and interim care is an urgent priority.

  • Psychological first aid services are still required as new arrivals continue to show signs of exhaustion and mental distress. Three mobile GBV mobile teams provide psychological first aid, prioritizing the most vulnerable cases.

Humanitarian Response

  • Since 4 December 2018, a total of 9,082 family tents have been installed to shelter new arrivals. Additional 1,356 are in the short-term pipeline and 700 are in mid to long-term pipeline. Some 1,471 additional family tents are needed. The camp administration is considering an additional expansion of the annex hosting foreign nationals.

  • As of 3 March 2019, phase 7 is occupied with 68 communal tents and 60 family tents. Site preparation is not yet confirmed in phase 7 where a large number of new arrivals are being sheltered. New arrivals are accommodated in family tents in phase 5, communal and family tents in phase 7 and communal tents in Annex 2 hosting 3rd country nationals. As of March 4, no one in Al Hol camp is staying in the open.

  • NFI and winterization kits are provided upon arrival and some 30,000 children under the age of 15 are being provided with clothing. There are currently no heaters in stock, with 800 to arrive this week, in an attempt to fill a gap of 2,000.

  • Vaccination efforts are ongoing with a special focus on reception areas and phase 5. Reports of cholera cases were unfounded after samples turned out negative. 773 emergency cases were referred to Al Hikma and Al Hayat hospitals in the past month. Primary and secondary health needs in the camp are being identified and the option of opening a field hospital on site is being looked into.

  • The mobilization of volunteers to serve in reception/transit areas has increased but challenges remain in terms of the capacity to offer continuous services during arrivals, particularly during night time.

  • Installation of WASH facilities are on-going in phase 7, plot 1-2, with 72 latrines, 34 garbage bins, 25 2,000-liter water tanks and 40 showers. Latrine cleaning and hygiene awareness campaigns are on-going. Distribution of WASH supplies is completed. Water is being trucked, providing 15-20 liters of drinking water per person/day.

  • Two interim care centers are now open in phase 3, catering to 40 unaccompanied children/children with disabilities. The 24/7 emergency child protection team supports new arrivals in the reception and screening area. Information desks are planned in phase 5 and 7 in addition to the one in the reception area, staffed with volunteers from protection actors, providing guidance on accommodation, assistance, delivery, services etc.

  • UN and protection partners are trying to expand and support the sorting and preservation of civil status documentation confiscated and stored in an “archive room” in the camp.

  • Ready-to-eat rations (RTEs) distribution is the first line response for new arrivals, reaching a total number of 3,800 rations distributed during the last week of February and 800 in the first days of March. Total number of RTEs in the pipeline is 15,400, while current stock is 3,000. Partners provide cooked meals from a kitchen in the reception area. GFRs distribution will take place this week, and the plan is to cover the entire camp, including new arrivals. Cash supplementary food assistance is being planned next week in the entire camp.

Resource Mobilization

  • Additional financial resources are urgently required to meet extensive needs at Al Hole camp, to ensure a sustained response. While the Syria Humanitarian Fund allocation has been mobilized and directed to sectors such as protection, shelter, NFI’s and WASH, this only partially contributes to meeting the scale of needs on the ground. More resources are needed across all sectors.

The next situation update will be issued once new information becomes available or is warranted by the situation on the ground.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit