Truck Accident Killing One Child and Injuring Two Shows Dangers of NE Syria Camps for Children

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Dec. 1, 2021)—The deaths of an Iraqi child and two Iraqi women who were run over in their tent by a water truck is a stark reminder that Al Hol camp in North East Syria camp is no place for children to grow up, Save the Children said today. 

Two women and a 16-year-old girl from the same family were killed on Monday and two other children injured when a water truck crashed into their tent. The two injured children are in hospital where one of them, a 9-year-old girl, is being treated for a fractured pelvis and broken legs.

Sara,* 15, whose sister Farah* was injured, told Save the Children:

“We used to get scared of playing outdoors because of the water trucks but death has followed us to our tents. I would go without water my whole life if my sister could start walking again.”

Farah’s friend Noor,* 10, also told Save the Children:

“We used to crave water and anxiously wait for it but now I don’t ever want to get it delivered.”

Water trucks, currently the main source of water for the camp, have been regularly involved in accidents in the camp. On November 20 this year, a 10-year-old girl from Tajikistan died after being hit by a truck, and a three-year-old Iraqi child also died in October. Since November 2020, at least six children have died as a result of vehicle accidents.

In addition to the fatal accident on Monday, a fire broke out in the camp, damaging two tents. Fires are a major risk in the camp, including deliberate arson, and the most common recorded cause of deaths for children. Fires are a particularly hazard in winter, when cold and wet weather means people in the camps use kerosene heaters or burn wood to try to keep warm. So far this year 13 children have been killed by fires in Al Hol.  

Children make up roughly two-thirds of the estimated 60,000 displaced people who have been living in Al Hol and nearby Roj camp since the collapse of the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2019. While the majority are Syrian and Iraqi, the camps also house foreign women and children from some 60 countries.

Save the Children’s Syria Response Director, Sonia Khush, said:

“Yesterday’s tragedy is a reminder that no child should grow up in Al Hol risking death and injury.  As we move into Syria’s cold winter, it is more urgent than ever that we find long-term solutions for people to be able to leave the camp. For foreign children, it is vital that their governments repatriate them as soon as possible. It is unconscionable that children can die in the camp simply because their governments will not take them home.” 

Save the Children provides activities and services including case management, mental health and psychosocial support, education through temporary learning spaces, mother-baby areas providing infant and young child feeding services for pregnant and lactating mothers and children under the age of two, as well as recreational activities in child-friendly spaces.

*Name has been changed

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