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The UN’s World Health Organisation reported that 35 children and newborns have died in the past two months after fleeing Islamic State to al-Hol Camp. Since the 22nd January, 10,000 people have left IS territory and were taken to the camp in Hassakeh Province which now supports 25,000 people. IRIN reports that people entering the camp, which is under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces, are undergoing screening measures to separate suspected IS fighters and supporters from the civilians who have fled to safety.
With priority given to the screening process, new arrivals are being made to wait “too long in the reception area at the camp before medical triage takes place,” Elizabeth Hoff, the WHO’s representative in Syria, told IRIN. “When they come to the camp, we want to see them immediately,” she said. “If there are sick children or critically ill patients, we don’t want to wait until they are finished [the screening].” Hoff said most of the 35 deaths were from hypothermia or hypoglycemia; cold and hunger. IRIN was with the SDF when it met a convoy of people fleeing IS in January, and many said they had been living with severe shortages of food and medicine for months.