As of 31 March, the population of Al Hol camp is 73,041 (21,245 households). Some 65% are children under the age of 18, and 27% are women. New arrivals since 4 December 2018 are 63,323.
The number of new arrivals has significantly reduced in the reporting period, with only 500 new arrivals in the past week. Current capacity for hosting additional arrivals in communal areas and big size tents is at 2,000. If future influx is greater than that, initial shelter cannot be guaranteed. Approximately 100 people are sheltered in the reception center, close to a medical center, due to their medical condition.
Humanitarian needs are still considerable across all sectors, and significant resources and efforts of donors and humanitarian actors are needed to sufficiently scale up the response.
Humanitarian actors have in some cases redirected resources from other parts of the country in order to respond in Al-Hol.
The latest new arrivals in particular, are in critical health conditions, with the capacity at referral hospitals overwhelmed. There is an urgent need for expanded health services in the camp itself, with approximately 30-50 cases, mainly treatment of injuries and malnutrition, referred to hospitals in Al-Hasakeh on daily basis.
43% of the camp population are Syrian IDPs, 42% are Iraqi nationals and 15% are other third country nationals. Most have suffered from prolonged exposure to hostilities and the strain of the journey from Baghouz, with many having specific needs, including pregnant women and girls, people with disabilities and more than 350 unaccompanied minors.
Al-Hol camp presents a number of complex protection challenges. The size and the profile of the population requires expanded protection services. Access to the Annex hosting third country nationals remains regulated by camp authorities, and some restrictions are limiting humanitarian services. Concerns remain about the lack of male and adolescent boys above the age of 15 arriving at the camp and for their safety and well-being. Women and adolescent girls continue to need various forms of assistance to preserve dignity, prevent GBV, and respond to the effects of violence and abuse. Older persons, persons with disabilities and those with mental health and psychiatric needs remain among the most neglected population groups.
Humanitarian partners are currently working at full capacity to expand the camp to accommodate the most recent arrivals and minimize time spent in communal living areas or big-sized tents. New phases, 6 and 8, are being prepared. The Annexes that host third country nationals are also being expanded in order to host additional people and improve living conditions. Enhancing shelter and WASH facilities and services are key priorities.
Suar transit-centre has been closed and its resources, including big size tents, health and WASH facilities, are to be moved to Al Hol camp.
In less than four months, Al Hol camp has gone from hosting some 10,000 people, back in December 2018, to hosting more than 73,000 people, far exceeding the planned capacity of the camp of approx. 41,000 individuals.
Although the number of new arrivals has reduced during the reporting period, the latest arrivals continue to show signs of distress and suffer from conflict-related injuries, malnutrition and fatigue caused by exposure to months of hostilities and a lack of access to basic goods and services.
Despite an on-going massive scale-up of life-saving assistance and services in the camp, challenges remain. More than 19,000 people, or 5,720 households, remain in big size tents, rub halls and communal spaces as humanitarian actors seek to further expand the camp through phases 6 and 8 and the Annex, and move people to family tents which should take place in the next two weeks.
Medical teams are working 24/7 to provide primary and secondary health services, reproductive health and malnutrition support and facilitate referral to hospitals. During the reporting period, more than 350 patients were referred to hospitals in the area, many struggling to accommodate the huge caseload. The limited space for referral remains a key challenge with efforts needed to further strengthen the in-patient capacity of hospitals in Al-Hasakeh governorate.
Ensuring access to clean water and hygiene services in a camp of more than 73,000 people remains a challenge. More than 1,500,000 liters of water are delivered to camp residents every day.
Overcrowding, family separation and disruption of safety-nets are putting women and girls at risk, including genderbased violence. The fact that more than 90% of camp residents are women and children under the age of 18, calls for specific protection measures such as structured psychosocial support, interim care arrangements for unaccompanied and separated children, family tracing and reunification procedures.
Further access is required for humanitarian actors to provide sustained health and protection services in the Annexes hosting third country nationals.
On 21 March, services were temporarily halted or relocated, following clashes between some of the displaced and local security forces. Shootings were reported along with one death and eight injured. The security situation in the camp remains tense.
Member states and humanitarian actors should initiate discussions to promote durable solutions for the displaced, including the repatriation of third country nationals. The surveying and clearance of explosive hazards in southeast DeirEr-Zour governorate will become a priority down the line, as the displaced start to return to their areas of origin. International Conventions are clear on the responsibilities of parties to the conflict in clearing, removing and destroying explosive remnants of war once hostilities cease.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.