The Al-Hol Refugee Camp, located 45 km east of Al-Hasakah (Heseke), is the largest camp in North and East Syria. It is not only the largest, but also the most dangerous. Only last year 126 people were slaughtered in the Al-Hol Camp. Also in 2021, there were 41 assassination attempts there and 13 tents were set on fire.
After the operations conducted in 2019 to remove ISIS, the families of ISIS members were settled in the Al Hol Camp, and today tens of thousands of women and children from at least 53 different nationalities live in the camp, which has been under the control of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) since 2015.
The history of the camp goes back to the Gulf war in 1991, when Syrians displaced by the pressure and attacks of the Damascus government were settled there. From 2016 Iraqi refugees were also moved in, and after the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) defeated ISIS in a large part of the region, the families of ISIS gang members were also brought to the camp.
According to the latest data, 57,460 people live in Al-Hol Refugee Camp. Most of them are women and children. The camp houses 15,603 Iraqi and Syrian families and 8,555 children from about 54 other countries.
According to Al-Hol Camp officials, the camp became more dangerous with the resettlement of families of ISIS gangs. Trying to keep the radical ideas of ISIS alive, women continued to raise their children with its ideology. It has been reported that ISIS families have attempted to flee the camp numerous times…
Although AANES Internal Security Forces try to ensure safety in the camp, it is not always possible. For instance if a woman wants to distance herself from ISIS, others punish her through so called ‘Legitimate’ courts they have established. Many people have been slaughtered following the decisions of these ISIS courts, ANHA reports.
This year became one of the bloodiest years in the history of Al-Hol camp, with many murders, tents set on fire and escape attempts. In March, in order to regain control of the camp its internal security forces launched security operations, in which 158 ISIS members hiding there were caught and put behind bars.
On 13 November, North and East Syria’s Internal Security Forces published a statement defining Al-Hol Camp as an international problem and repeated their calls to international powers for support.
“We are working as hard as we can with the means at our disposal to ensure the safety of thousands of ISIS families from different nations at Al-Hol Camp. But Al-Hol Camp is an international problem. All international powers must consider themselves responsible for solving this problem,” they said.
The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria issued Resolution 146 in October 2020 to prevent these increasing threats. According to this, Syrian families who are found not to have been involved in crimes will be allowed to leave the camp after the relevant investigation. So far, 48 groups have left the camp under this resolution.
The danger posed by ISIS gang families in Al-Hol Camp on the one hand and the 19,000 gangs in SDF-controlled prisons on the other are raising concerns for the AANES officials and continue to pose a threat to the region. However to date there has been no response from international powers to their calls for support.