Desperate Families Flee into War-torn Syria to Escape Mosul Fighting

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (October 19, 2016) — Thousands of desperate Iraqis are fleeing to a filthy and overcrowded Syrian refugee camp in an effort to escape the Mosul offensive, according to Save the Children’s team on the ground in northeast Syria.

About 5,000 people, mostly women and children, have arrived at the Al Hol Camp from the Mosul area in the last 10 days, and at least 1,000 more are now massing at the border waiting to cross.

Save the Children field staff who visited the camp last week spoke of dire conditions. The camp was littered with waste and feces, with a looming risk of disease outbreaks as a result. There were just 16 latrines shared by more than 9,000 people.

Lines of dehydrated families stretched for more than 100 yards as they waited for trucks of dirty, untreated water — and one man told field staff they would often be left without even those supplies for up to two days at a time.

"These families arrive with nothing but the clothes on their backs and find almost nothing to help them," said Tarik Kadir, head of Save the Children’s response to the Mosul crisis. "The camp is bursting at the seams and risks being overwhelmed. Conditions there are among the worst we’ve seen, and we expect thousands more people to be on their way soon."

The UN is warning that 100,000 people may arrive in Syria from around Mosul.

Save the Children’s teams in northeast Syria are bringing in water and sanitation systems, and urgently establishing child protection activities.

There are currently no safe areas or education services in the camp for children who have faced two years of IS rule and a perilous journey to safety.

Funding is urgently needed to respond to the growing needs. The UN’s emergency appeal for Mosul and Save the Children’s own response to the crisis are currently only about half funded.

To support Save the Children’s work in response to the Mosul offensive, please visit:

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