Eight children die in Al Hol camp, northeastern Syria in less than a week

Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore

12 August 2020

NEW YORK/ DAMASCUS/AMMAN, 12 August 2020 – “UNICEF is deeply alarmed by reports that eight children under the age of five died in the Al Hol camp in northeastern Syria just in less than a week.

“The deaths occurred between 6-10 August. Four of them were caused by malnutrition-related complications. The others were due to dehydration from diarrhoea, heart failure, internal bleeding and hypoglycemia.

“Any child’s death is tragic. It is even more so when the death could have been averted.

“Nearly 40,000 children from more than 60 countries continue to languish in Al Hol. They lack access to basic services and have to contend with the sweltering summer heat and the trauma of violence and displacement.

“COVID-19, with the resulting movement restrictions and quarantine measures, is making a critical situation even worse. Recent confirmed infections among camp workers have led to a pause in some health and education services, and to a temporary reduction in the number of workers operating in the camp. It is critical that the resumption of health and nutrition services is prioritized and that emergency care options are in place.

“Despite these limitations, UNICEF and partners continue to provide essential lifesaving services including water trucking, and health, nutrition and child protection services. UNICEF is also supporting community volunteers to further raise awareness on COVID-19 preventive measures.

“But a longer-term solution is long overdue. Children in Al Hol, like all children affected by conflict, have the right to humanitarian assistance. Those born to foreign nationals have the right to be safeguarded, including with legal documentation, family reunification and repatriation to their home countries when it is in their best interest. All children have the right to be protected from the devastating effects the pandemic is having on their survival, learning and protection.”

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