SYRIA – Dozens of children die in refugee camps in the northeast
A report by Save the Children denounces the death of at least 62 children since the beginning of 2021. Among the causes are malnutrition, disease, poor sanitary conditions and arson. Two children have been murdered. In the country, infections from Covid have resumed both in government areas and in rebel-held enclaves.
At least 62 children have died in two different refugee camps in northeastern Syria since the beginning of the year, confirming the “urgent need” to repatriate foreign minors whose lives are insecure and prospects for the future denied.
This is the alarm launched today by the NGO Save the Children in a report entitled “When do I start living?” , which chronicles “unsustainable” conditions in the centers of Al-Hol and Roj. Controlled by Kurdish forces the camps shelter tens of thousands of displaced persons, including about 40 thousand children along with families of foreign jihadists of the Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis).
There have been at least two fatalities among minors are per week since the beginning of 2021. Causes include malnutrition, disease, poor sanitary conditions and fires that break out inside the tents. Two children were murdered, out of a total of 73 murders that took place in the two reception centers in the first nine months of the year.
Other problems include the denied right to education: in Al-Hol, in fact, only 40% of minors benefit from a school education, while in Rome the figure is close to 55%. In addition, there are cases of minors of 11 years old forced to work.
“Violence – Save the Children explains in a note on the sidelines of the report – are a daily phenomenon in Al-Hol […] murders, attempted murders, assaults and arson are a common phenomenon”.
Among the many stories recounted is that of 11-year-old Maryam, originally from Lebanon: “I can no longer bear this life,” she said last May, because “all we do is wait.” The little girl died, her mother was injured and her brother disappeared during an attempt to escape from the refugee camp.
Meanwhile the country is facing, in a situation of absolute emergency, a new wave of Covid-19 infection that is spreading both in areas under government control and in enclaves still in the hands of rebel and extremist forces. In the last 24 hours the highest number of cases (235) since the beginning of the pandemic has been recorded. In absolute terms not a high figure, but it must be considered that the real figure has always been far underestimated, while swabs and tracing are insufficient for an accurate assessment of the situation.
Health operators report that, so far, only 440 thousand doses of anti-Covid vaccine have been administered, out of a total of 18 million inhabitants. The official figure speaks of 31,148 infections and 2,146 victims since last year, but in reality the real emergency emerges from the overcrowded hospitals and unable to respond to all requests.
“The occupancy rate of intensive care units has now almost reached 100%” – confirms Issam al-Amin, head of the Mouwasat University Hospital, one of the largest in Damascus with over 800 beds. In the north-west controlled by the rebels, the cases have doubled in less than a month, with over 63 thousand infections (25 thousand active ones).