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In Syria, daily escape from the latest fighting against Daesh

Hundreds of people are fleeing daily clashes between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the jihadists.

The Al-Hol camp, where most find refuge, has exceeded its capacity.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is advancing step by step around the village of Baghouz, the last bastion of Daesh, in northeastern Syria. The Arab-Kurdish alliance, backed by an international coalition led by the United States, must contend with the ferocity of the 500 to 600 jihadists entrenched in this redoubt. An obstacle to which is added that of the multiple mines scattered around by the terrorists.

In these circumstances, the SDS is making progress "Slow" US coalition spokesman Sean Ryan admitted Tuesday (February 12th) that they are "Streamlined".

A growing share of jihadist relatives

Mines are also a formidable threat to civilians fleeing clashes. They were " hundreds " on the night of Tuesday 12 to Wednesday 13 February, said a spokesman for FDS, Mustefa Bali. Among them, the proportion of relatives of jihadists – wives, children – partly foreign, is growing as the vise tightens on the enclave of Daesh.

Towards repatriation of French jihadists

The scenario of the flight is repeated day and night since the intensification of the offensive on the ultimate pocket of the organization, early December. In two months, no less than 27,000 people have abandoned their roof, or what could be, to join the camp of Al-Hol, about sixty kilometers to the north, according to the office of coordination of the businesses humanitarian organizations for the Syrian crisis (OCHA). In the last week of January alone, there were about 10,000, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The camp population has thus more than tripled since early December. "Today housing more than 36,000 people, it has exceeded the limits of its capabilities", indicates to The cross David Swanson, OCHA spokesman for the Syrian crisis. In particular, two subjects are of concern to the "Protection of civilians" during their journey and their " living conditions " in the camp.

En route, cold, rain, hunger, mines

On foot and then in trucks transported by the FDS, the journey since the last pocket controlled by Daech leaves the newcomers to camp Al-Hol "Exhausted", notes David Swanson. The cold, rain, hunger or mines are all difficulties on their journey. Since December, fifty children as well as an elderly person have died on the way or as soon as they arrive at the camp, reports the spokesperson. "Families lose members along the way"confirms Annick Bouvier, spokeswoman of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has a team of a dozen members in Hassaké province, where the Al-Hol camp is located.

In Syria, the last days of the caliphate of Daesh

To make the journey safer, the humanitarian organizations asked the FDS in mid-January, who control the area, "To designate a transit site (…) so that vital assistance can be provided "UNHCR said. A request that remains unanswered.

Inside the camp itself, "The situation is dramatic and continues to deteriorate", warns the ICRC spokesperson. This evokes a violent storm that destroyed facilities, including tents and a kitchen, during the night of Thursday, February 7. And to mention among the most urgent needs, blankets, mattresses or hygiene kits.

Marianne Meunier

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