World Health Organization sounds alarm over freezing conditions facing 23,000 people fleeing conflict
'At least 29 children and newborn babies have died in freezing temperatures after fleeing conflict in the last Isis controlled villages in eastern Syria.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said it was extremely concerned about the conditions facing 23,000 people who have taken flight from rural areas of Deir ez-Zor over over the past two months, warning that services are severely overstretched.
Many have walked or travelled in open trucks for days in bitterly cold weather to reach al-Hol, the main camp for displaced people, only to spend several nights in the facility’s open-air reception areas without tents, blankets or heating.
“The situation in the camp is now critical,” the WHO warned in a statement. “The authorities are overwhelmed and struggling to cope with the sheer numbers of people. Many new arrivals are malnourished and exhausted following years of deprivation living under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.”
Al-Hol’s population has tripled in size, from 10,000 to almost 33,000 people, in less than two months. The camp is unheated and there is a shortage of healthcare services, tents, latrines and sanitation facilities.
Those arriving are mainly women and children fleeing rural areas of neighbouring Deir ez-Zor. Kurdish and local Arab tribes, backed by a US-led coalition, are fighting to clear Isis near the town of Hajin in the Euphrates river valley.'
Read more: Children and babies die as temperatures plummet in Syria