Over the past week, between 200 and 300 Iraqis fleeing the battle of Mosul have been arriving at the camp each day and according to the UN around 3,500 Iraqi refugees have crossed into Syria since military operations began in mid-October.
The IRC has screened over 800 new arrivals for contagious diseases, documented chronic disease needing treatment and identified pregnant women needing extra support. IRC health teams also screened over 200 under-fives for malnutrition, referring more than a dozen cases for urgent care.
Many new arrivals have each paid smugglers up to £700 to take incredibly dangerous journeys across ISIS controlled territory, with some walking up to 14 days. One Iraqi refugee told the IRC that he walked 20km in a single night to avoid ISIS patrols. He also said he left his elderly father behind because he was not physically fit enough to complete the journey.
Some arrivals at the densely-mined border have waited up to two weeks before being allowed to cross. Despite freezing night time temperatures, most at the border don’t have any shelter, leaving some to dig ditches covered with plastic sheeting to try and escape the wind.
Once given permission to cross, people are sent on to Al Hol camp, which according to the UN is currently housing around 9,000 people, including around 1,000 displaced Syrians, mostly from ISIS controlled Deir Al Zour.