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

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.


Yemen’s terrifying, severely damaged road to Taiz on brink of collapse

Vehicles are pictured on a damaged road, the only travel route between Yemen’s cities of Taiz and Aden. Yemen has been left in ruins by six years of war, where over 24 million people are in need of aid and protection. (AFP)
Updated 22 min 48 sec ago

Yemen’s terrifying, severely damaged road to Taiz on brink of collapse

  • Convoys of vehicles big and small move at a snail’s pace as they squeeze past each other on the narrow road that has been severely damaged over the years by heavy rainfall

TAIZ: Lorries filled to the brim with goods labor up and down the dangerously winding and precipitous road of Hayjat Al-Abed, the mountainous lifeline to Yemen’s third largest city.
Unlike all other routes linking southwest Taiz to the rest of the war-torn country, the road — with its dizzying drop-offs into the valley below — is the only one that has not fallen into the hands of the Houthi rebels.
Some 500,000 inhabitants of the city, which is besieged by the Iran-backed Houthis, depend on the 7-km stretch of crater-filled road for survival, as the long conflict between the insurgents and the government shows no signs of abating.
Convoys of vehicles big and small move at a snail’s pace as they squeeze past each other on the narrow road that has been severely damaged over the years by heavy rainfall.
“As you can see, it is full of potholes, and we face dangerous slopes,” Marwan Al-Makhtary, a young truck driver, told AFP. “Sometimes trucks can no longer move forward, so they stop and roll back.”
Makhtary said nothing was being done to fix the road, and fears are mounting that the inexorable deterioration will ultimately bring the supply of goods to a halt.
Dozens of Taiz residents on Tuesday urged the government to take action, forming a human chain along the road — some of them carrying signs saying: “Save Taiz’s Lifeline.”

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500,000 inhabitants of Taiz, which is besieged by the Iran-backed Houthis, depend on the 7-km stretch of crater-filled road for survival.

“We demand the legitimate government and local administration accelerate efforts to maintain and fix the road,” said one of the protesters, Abdeljaber Numan.
“This is the only road that connects Taiz with the outside world, and the blocking of this artery would threaten the city.”
Sultan Al-Dahbaly, who is responsible for road maintenance in the local administration, said the closure of the road would represent a “humanitarian disaster” in a country already in crisis and where the majority of the population is dependent on aid.
“It is considered a lifeline of the city of Taiz, and it must be serviced as soon as possible because about 5 million people (in the province) would be affected,” he told AFP.

Humanitarian aid
Meanwhile, Yemen’s president on Thursday urged his government’s rival, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, to stop impeding the flow of urgently needed humanitarian aid following a warning from the UN humanitarian chief last week that “the specter of famine” has returned to the conflict-torn country.
President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s plea came in a prerecorded speech to the UN General Assembly’s ministerial meeting being held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It aired more than a week after Human Rights Watch warned that all sides in Yemen’s conflict were interfering with the arrival of food, health care supplies, water and sanitation support.