More than 100 Syrian family members of ISIS fighters have been freed under a plan to start clearing out the overcrowded al-Hol camp in northeast Syria amid fears about the spread of the novel coronavirus, said Voice of America (VOA) in a report on Nov. 5.
Amid fears about the spread of the coronavirus, the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria has released more than 100 Syrian family members of Islamic State fighters held at an overpopulated camp in northeast Syria. pic.twitter.com/Sx56zdb5o7— VOA Extremism Desk (@VOA_Extremism) November 6, 2020
Kurdish fighters have seized much of northern and eastern Syria from ISIS with U.S. backing. They have since held thousands of militants in prisons, while their wives and children - numbering tens of thousands, many of them foreigners - are living in camps.
Al-Hol camp alone houses nearly 65,000 people, including about 28,000 Syrians, 30,000 Iraqis and some 10,000 other foreigners of many nationalities, according to U.N. Estimates.
UNICEF said in August eight children had died in al-Hol, where it said children from 60 countries were languishing and COVID-19 infections among camp workers had worsened conditions.
Officials with the Autonomous Administration for North and East Syria, also known as Rojava, have for months been saying that the situation in al-Hol is no longer sustainable.
Kurdish-led authorities said in October that up to 15,000 Syrians could be moved out of al-Hol as the cost of maintaining the camp is a “heavy burden.”
They also said that foreigners held there would no longer be the administration's responsibility. They said that they would start the transfer with the "least radical" foreign women and children.