As of 4 October 2020, 64,619 individuals live at Al Hol, comprising 48 per cent Iraqis (30,824), 37 per cent Syrians (24,325) and 15 per cent third country nationals (TCNs) (9,462).
As COVID-19 preventive measures have eased, camp departures have recommenced. In the past two months more than 1,000 people, largely Syrian IDPs but also TCNs, are reported to have left. This includes 16 Russian national children relocated initially to Al Roj camp on 8 September before being handed over to a Russian delegation; and one British national child and one Canadian national child who left Al Hol on 15 September and 5 October respectively. Also on 15 September, 34 Iraqi individuals, originally from Shingal, were also reported as having been repatriated under the sponsorship of the Shingal civilian body in Iraq. Since 2019, almost 6,070 residents have departed Al Hol, including 5,303 IDPs. While official records show that only 766 TCNs have left Al Hol during that time, actual numbers are understood to be much higher, as humanitarian actors are often not notified of these departures.
Following the departure of 206 Syrian nationals for Deir-Ez-Zor Governorate on 30 September under tribal sponsorship agreements – the fourth such organized departure since 12 March – on 5 October local authorities announced their intention to release all Syrian IDPs from Al Hol. While this has been understood as a continuation of the ongoing gradual departure of Syrian IDPs to areas of origin under tribal sponsorship agreements, partners are liaising with Camp Administration for further details given the need to ensure protection monitoring upon departure and at their final destination, as well as to provide appropriate humanitarian assistance in advance. According to initial plans announced by Camp Administration, around 3,000 Syrian IDP households are reported to have been pre-approved for departure, with roughly half of these expected to leave Al Hol before the end of the year. Registration is reported as ongoing until 8 October, while the exact timeframe of the next departure has yet to be confirmed following postponement of initial plans scheduled for 10 October.
To date, four cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among the resident population in Al Hol, including one – an elderly Iraqi man – fatality. At the time of writing, two cases had recovered, while one case confirmed on 3 October is currently under observation in the COVID-19 Treatment Facility (CTF - formerly known as the isolation center). Efforts are ongoing to enhance contact tracing capacity in the camp, which remains limited to one medical team consisting of three health care workers and 11 community volunteers. Following a capacity assessment of the CTF in August, which found it fully operational but only appropriate for treatment of mild-to-moderate cases, partners are working to reduce gaps. The most pressing include establishment of a laundry area; adjustments to on-site medical waste incineration; and procurement of additional oxygen cylinders. Partners have committed to meeting these gaps by 15 October.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.