STATEMENT: UNICEF calls for safe reintegration and repatriation of children in al-Hol Camp and across northeast of Syria

28th February 2021

Three children killed and 15 injured as fire breaks out in crowded camp 

Statement from UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Ted Chaiban

AMMAN, 28 February 2021- “At least three children lost their lives and another 15 were injured last night when a fire broke out in al-Hol camp in northeast Syria.

“In and around the al-Hol camp in the northeast of Syria, there are more than 22,000 foreign children of at least 60 nationalities who languish in camps and prisons, in addition to many thousands of Syrian children.

“Children in al-Hol are faced not only with the stigma they are living with but also with very difficult living conditions where basic service are scarce or in some cases unavailable.

“The detention of children is a measure of last resort and should be for the shortest time possible. Children should not be detained based solely on suspected family ties with armed groups or the membership of family members in armed groups.

“Local authorities in the northeast of Syria and member states should do everything possible to bring children -currently in the northeast of Syria- back home through integrating Syrian children in their local communities and the repatriation of foreign children back to their countries of origin in a safe and dignified way. We call on all member states to provide children -who are their citizens or born to their nationals- with civil documentation to prevent statelessness. This is in line with the best interests of the child and in compliance with international standards.

“In al-Hol camp, UNICEF continues to deliver humanitarian assistance to children and families. We call on all parties to the conflict in Syria to allow unimpeded humanitarian access to deliver assistance and care to children and families, including those in places of detention. 

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Notes to editors: 

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For more information please contact:

Juliette Touma, jtouma@unicef.org, UNICEF Regional Office, +962-79-867-4628

Salam Al-Janabi, sabdulmunem@unicef.org, UNICEF Syria, +963-9-500-44-371

Joe English, UNICEF New York, +1 917 893 0692 jenglish@unicef.org