Syria’s Al-Hol Detention Center Is A Walking Human Rights Violation

Save the Children, a charity that works inside the al-Hol dentition camp in northeastern Syria, reported two Egyptian girls’ deaths. The al-Hol detention camps hold the relatives of suspected Islamic State members controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces. Still, the U.S. government alleges that the Islamic State runs much of the camp. Nevertheless, the loss of two Egyptian girls reveals the constant danger inside al-Hol and the need for states to repatriate their citizens from the camp.

The detention camps date back to 1991, when Iraqi refugees came due to the first Gulf War. However, with a population of 10,000 in 2018 to “nearly 75,00 as women and children streamed out of the last ISIS stronghold in Baghouz, Syria,” reported by the United States Institute of Peace. With this massive population inside the detention center, there are serious security concerns and a lack of access to medical care for the inhabitants. Some residents have even gone so far as to refer to al-Hol as a “death camp,” reported by Al Jazeera. It becomes more worrisome when Medecins Sans Frontieres informs the public that “In 2021, 35 per cent of those who died in Al-Hol camp were children under the age of 16,” revealing that there are issues at al-Hol which are not being taken seriously.

Nation states have repatriated their children, grandchildren, and woman of dead ISIL fighters. Since May of 2021, the Iraqi government has repatriated 2,500 Iraqis from al-Hol, reported by The Washington Post, and they plan to have more return, but the camp houses 30,000 Iraqi citizens. Although when it comes to the western nations that have nationals inside the detention camp, they refused to take back their citizens in addition to describing it as a festering sore on the global conscience, the Washington Post continuous that thought through a source stating that “Governments have tried to wash their hands of those people” in doing so these states choose not to increase the safety of the inhabitants or provide adequate access to health care.

The international community is at fault for the events inside the al-Hol detention camp. They have allowed the issues to fester, the humanitarian crisis to be unresolved and the death of children lies on their hands. However, there is still hope that the issue at hand can be fixed. Nation-states that have nationals inside of al-Hol must be repatriated at the earliest convenience, access to medical care is a necessity that needs to be provided inside the detention center, and the security issue must be resolved. The death of two Egyptian girls should have never occurred; the rate of 35 percent of deaths being children in the past year should not be a figure we are faced with. The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and heads of all humanitarian organizations must call upon all foreign actors in Syria to secure the al-Hol detention center and provide funding to ensure the safety of all inhabitants while they remain.

The death of two Egyptian children in the al-Hol detention camp speaks of the severe issues that have led to the death of children. In 2021 35 percent of fatalities inside the camp were children; the alarming percentage should concern the world. Nevertheless, it is time foreign actors inside Syria take accountability for the al-Hol detention camp to provide adequate security and access to medical care and repatriate their citizens to their homeland.