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Syria's al-Hol camp on 'the brink of collapse', Red Cross warns Open in fullscreen

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Syria's al-Hol camp on 'the brink of collapse', Red Cross warns

Services at the Al-Hol camp in north-eastern Syria are on the brink of collapse. [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 March, 2019

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A flood of civilians and some Islamic State extremists who have left the group's last besieged enclave in Syria have pushed the camp's services to breaking point.

The Red Cross' UN observer says the weak and fragile services at the al-Hol camp in north-eastern Syria are on "the brink of collapse" because of a flood of civilians and some Islamic State extremists who have left the extremist group's last besieged enclave in Syria.

Robert Mardini of the International Committee for the Red Cross said in New York on Monday that the population in the camp has risen from 34,000 at the beginning of December to 45,000 now.

He said several thousand mainly women and children arrive daily and there is "no end in sight."

Mardini says those coming out of the IS pocked are "sick, injured, tired, afraid" and the situation at the camp is "overwhelming."

He also said says the international Red Cross is ready to help with any repatriations of IS fighters and their families provided agreements are negotiated with their home countries.

Mardini called this "one of the most complex issues, not only from a humanitarian sense but also from whether countries want their nationals to return or not."

A British charity said last week that thousands of children displaced from the Islamic State group's last redoubt in northeastern Syria show signs of psychological distress.

"Children are showing signs of psychological distress, including nervousness, withdrawal, aggression, nightmares and bedwetting, especially among children aged 10 to 14 years old," said Save the Children.

Infants who fled IS-held areas were "likely to have witnessed acts of brutality and lived under intense bombardment and deprivation in the last enclave held by the group", it added.

Several thousand people are believed to remain in Baghouz, the last shred of the Islamic State group's "caliphate" which once straddled Syria and Iraq and ruled millions.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, around 50,000 people have quit the last IS pocket, in the Euphrates Valley, since December 2018.

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