Operational update on Syria: 6,500 meals a day; helping vulnerable unaccompanied children

04 March 2019
Operational update on Syria: 6,500 meals a day; helping vulnerable unaccompanied children
CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Cynthia Lee

Geneva (ICRC) - An update from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the situation in the Al Hol camp for displaced people in north-eastern Syria:

“While the comparatively smaller number of foreign fighters and their families have received the most international attention, let’s also remember that tens of thousands of Syrian residents in the camps need immediate aid. A stream of new arrivals has pushed the camp far over capacity,” said Philip Spoerri, head of the ICRC’s delegation in Syria.

“The nights are biting. More than two dozen children are reported to have died due to the cold in recent weeks. People are bundled in clothes, as they have no indoors to go to. Some don’t even have tents yet and remain exposed to rain, wind and bitter temperatures,” he said.


  • A community kitchen set up by the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) has been serving hot meals since mid-February to the newly arrived to Al-Hol. We have increased our capacity to deliver meals – up to 6,500 a day – in recent days to keep pace with the growing new arrivals. Menus include rice and vegetables as well as burghul and beans.
  • The ICRC and SARC installed 30 latrine units in the camp in February to assist the growing camp population. Due to the continued influx, access to latrines and washing facilities is no longer adequate and more will be needed.
  • In Al Hol as in other camps, the ICRC is providing services to help to restore or maintain links for families who have lost touch or been separated due to the conflict.
  • There has been a continuous distribution of thousands of bottles of water to new arrivals and 98,000 liters of clean water via water trucking on a daily basis in the camp.



  • The ICRC is particularly concerned about children who are living in the camps without their parents or habitual guardians, as well as other especially vulnerable persons. Since the beginning of 2018, the ICRC team has registered about 1,300 vulnerable persons in IDP camps in the northeast, including 848 children.
  • Women and children who arrive at Al Hol are sleepless, hungry, cold and show signs of shock. Each wave of new arrivals seems to be in worse condition than the one before.
  • New arrivals, including families with infants, must sleep in the open and under blankets hung from the fences, exposed to the cold weather and rain.
  • The stories we hear are heart-breaking. An anxious 8-year-old boy has been running around Al Hol camp looking for his mother. We offered him food from the ICRC-SARC community kitchen, but he refused to take it, and told us that he did not want anything but his mother. He sat down with both his hands under his chin and he covered his face.
  • A teenage girl we meet in the camp, whose parents are not around, is taking care of an infant found in the rubble of a building. "She is sick and weak. She doesn't talk or walk much,” the teenager said. “Her parents were killed in a bombing. No one knows anything about her family. No one knows her real name.”


For further information, please contact:

Adnan HEZAM, ICRC Damascus, Tel.: +963 930 336 718