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Syria: Norway repatriates orphan from al-Hol camp

Up to eight Norwegians remain in the camps, according to recent estimates
The Kurdish-run al-Hol camp, which holds relatives of suspected Islamic State (IS) group, October 2021. (AFP)

Norway repatriated an orphan from the al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria on Monday, according to an official document signed by the Norwegian government and the Kurdish Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, also known as Rojava.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), an estimated 12,000 children and women who are not originally from Iraq and Syria live in the al-Roj and al-Hol camps, where conditions have been condemned by rights groups.

The camps hold family members of suspected Islamic State (IS) fighters, but also refugees who lived under IS occupation. Most of the children detained are under 12 years old, and many under five, HRW said.

The fate of foreigners detained in camps, the majority of whom are women and children, has remained a lingering question for many countries, who are reluctant to repatriate citizens that may have had ties to IS. 

Kurdish and US officials have repeatedly implored the international community to bring home their nationals from the camps.

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HRW estimated in May that up to eight Norwegians remained in the camps.

The Nordic country repatriated five orphans in 2019.

In October, 11 Swedish nationals and three British children were repatriated.

A recent Save the Children report found that 73 people, including two children, have been murdered in the al-Hol camp so far this year, with a further 62 children, approximately two per week, dying by other means.

In recent months, several countries, including Germany, Finland and Belgium, have repatriated groups of mothers and children from the camps.

A forthcoming decision from the European Court of Human Rights may force them to finally bring home all of the women and children imprisoned in Kurdish-run camps.