Al-Hol continues to fuel resentment and serves as a source of inspiration for terrorists: UN Envoy to Iraq
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, on Monday in a speech in Baghdad regarding Syria’s al-Hol camp, underlined that leaving the situation in al-Hol camp unaddressed is not an option, as the camps hosts thousands of ISIS families that could be exposed to sympathetic beliefs towards terrorist doctrine.
“Ever since taking up my position in December 2018, the camps and prisons in North-eastern Syria have been front and centre in my engagements. Why? Because leaving the situation unaddressed was (and still is) not an option,” she said.
“Now - the legacy of yesterday’s fight against Da’esh (Arabic acronym for ISIS) is undoubtedly a complex one. But one that we must tackle, together. We have a collective duty to prevent it from turning into tomorrow’s war.”
She underlined that over the past four years she repeated that we should not wait for young children to come of age in a camp like Al-Hol.
“These children never asked to be part of this mess. But the harsh reality is that they find themselves deprived of their rights. Also, they find themselves at risk of forced recruitment; of violent extremism becoming their ‘normal’.”
The al-Hol camp accommodates thousands of Iraqi, Syrian, and foreign nationals. Moreover, the camp has experienced numerous security incidents and killings, including activities involving ISIS sleeper cells. There are also fears the camp could breed the next generation of ISIS 2.0.
In April last year, 449 households had returned from Al-Hol camp to Iraq. “Since then, Iraq has managed to more than triple this number, with the return of 1,382 households to Jeddah Centre. Meanwhile, a further 837 households have departed to their areas of origin or return,” she added.
She underlined that “the risks associated with doing nothing or too little are abundantly clear. Also, a camp like Al-Hol continues to fuel resentment and serves as a source of inspiration for terrorists.”
Last year in June, UN Envoy to Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, personally visited the al-Hol camp in Syria.
In her speech, she also underlined that returnees from Iraq must have accessible pathways to legal identity and other civil documentation. Without official papers, returnees will simply not succeed in setting up their lives and reintegrating.
“We must further ensure that unmet demands for justice do not spark a groundswell of anger. So yes, I also want to flag the need for accountability and justice. The victims of Da’esh (ISIS) deserve no less. Moreover, accountability and justice are key mechanisms for prevention,” she concluded.