Kurdish authorities to release 800 Syrians from Al-Hol camp: official

A woman displaced from Syria’s eastern Deir Ezzor province, carries child as she walks in Al-Hol camp for displaced people, in Al-Hasakah governorate in northeastern Syria. (File/AFP)
Updated 02 June 2019
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Kurdish authorities to release 800 Syrians from Al-Hol camp: official

  • Their release comes at the request of local Arab tribes
  • The women and children - all Syrians- are living among the dregs of Daesh in the Kurdish-run Al-Hol camp in northeast Syria

AIN ISSA, Syria: Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria said Sunday they plan to hand 800 women and children, including relatives of militants, to their families in the first such transfer from an overcrowded camp.
The women and children — all Syrians — are living among the dregs of Daesh in the Kurdish-run Al-Hol camp, home to nearly 74,000 people including more than 30,000 Syrians.
They will be released Monday and “taken to their families” at the request of local Arab tribes, according to Abd Al-Mehbach, co-chair of the Kurdish administration’s executive council.
It is to be the first in a larger wave of releases that aim to empty Al-Hol of its Syrian residents, he said.
The next batch is expected to follow the Eid Al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Hoovered up during a final offensive against the militants by a US-backed Kurdish-led force, thousands of wives and children of Daesh fighters have been trucked into Al-Hol from a string of Syrian villages south of the camp in recent months.
Their numbers have created a major headache for the semi-autonomous Kurdish administration and have sparked concerns that the camp is emerging as a fresh militant powder keg.
But not all of those being released are relatives of Daesh fighters, Mehbache said of the group set to leave Monday.
Some sought shelter at the camp to escape tough humanitarian conditions in areas levelled by months of fighting, he said.
Monday’s group consists of residents from the northeastern city of Raqqa — once Daesh’s de facto capital in Syria — as well as the town of Tabqa, 70 kilometers (43 miles) west, according to Mehbach.
Those among them with suspected links to Daesh will be kept under surveillance by local Arab tribes, who have given guarantees, he said.
“It is the (Kurdish) administration’s duty to its people to play a role in the rehabilitation of these women and children, and their reintegration into society,” he added.
The Daesh proto-state was declared defeated on March 23, following a nearly five-year-long offensive against the group.
Thousands of foreign fighters are being held in Kurdish-run prisons, while their wives and children languish in displacement camps.
Among the hordes of Syrians and Iraqis, some 12,000 foreigners are held in a fenced-off section of the Al-Hol camp, under the watch of Kurdish forces.


Lebanese president insists on return of Syrian refugees

Updated 26 min 1 sec ago
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Lebanese president insists on return of Syrian refugees

  • Aoun calls on the UN to provide assistance to internally displaced people inside Syria

BEIRUT: Lebanese President Michel Aoun has insisted on the return of Syrian refugees in Lebanon to their country, even if not to where they had been displaced.

He told a visiting US delegation on Monday that the return of refugees “can’t wait for a political solution to the Syrian crisis, as it may take time due to international tensions over the Syrian situation.”

Aoun said: “The wave of Syrian displacement has produced negative repercussions that has impacted all Lebanese sectors.”

He added: “Lebanon, which has provided all the humanitarian and logistical facilities for refugees during the Syrian war, believes that Syrian territory, except for Idlib (province) and its surrounding area, is now stable, making it easier for refugees to return.”

Aoun called on the UN to provide assistance to internally displaced people (IDPs) inside Syria in order to encourage refugees to return and contribute to their country’s reconstruction.

The wave of Syrian displacement has produced negative repercussions that has impacted all Lebanese sectors.

Michel Aoun, Lebanese president

“Lebanon continues to organize return trips for refugees in coordination with the concerned Syrian authorities, who welcome their return,” he said, adding that his country “hasn’t been informed of any returnees getting harassed.”

The head of the delegation, Frederic Hof, said that after its meetings with Lebanese officials, it will submit a report on ideas, stances and proposals to resolve the Syrian crisis and its repercussions.

Some 1 million Syrians in Lebanon are registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The Lebanese General Security said it has facilitated the return of 172,046 refugees between December 2017 and March 19, 2019, through legal crossings.