UN expresses "grave concern" for civilians fleeing last IS-held area in eastern Syria

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-01 05:53:10|Editor: yan
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DAMASCUS, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- The UN office in Damascus expressed on Thursday "grave concern" about the situation of the civilians fleeing the last Islamic State (IS) area in eastern Syria.

In a statement, the UN office called for urgent funding to scale up response to the "plight" of civilians who are leaving the al-Baghouz area in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour to the al-Hol camp in Hasakah Province in northeastern Syria.

Thousands of people have been fleeing the last IS-held area in eastern Syria and seeking refuge in al-Hol camp, which is controlled by the Kurdish militia.

Reports said children are dying while en route to the camp.

In its statement, the UN said many of the arrivals appear exhausted, hungry and sick, adding that the camp is operating overcapacity.

In the last week alone, approximately 13,000 people, 90 percent of whom were women and children, arrived at al-Hol camp, said the statement.

Since last December, about 45,000 people have arrived at al-Hol after fleeing areas that had been controlled by IS in the eastern Euphrates River region in eastern Deir al-Zour.

The statement said the United Nations continues to call on all parties to ensure that all efforts are made to protect civilians, facilitate and expedite access for humanitarian actors and needed supplies to the area, and to ensure the displaced have access to assistance and protection services.

It also called for additional financial resources to meet the upsurge and scale of humanitarian needs of tens of thousands of newly displaced people at al-Hol camp.

The IS militants are losing their last stronghold in al-Baghouz area in eastern Deir al-Zour to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The SDF fighters are waiting for the civilians to fully evacuate al-Baghouz to launch the final battle to eliminate the IS completely from the last few areas it controls in al-Baghouz.