Cold kills 29 children fleeing Syria fighting: WHO

At least 29 Syrian children have died in the cold weather in the past eight weeks as they tried to flee the violence in eastern Syria, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday.

The children and newborns mostly died of hypothermia while traveling to the Al-Hol refugee camp in the Al-Hasakah governorate, or shortly after arriving.

Over the past two months, the camp has received 23,000 people fleeing the fighting between the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, led by the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists, and Daesh.

"Many of them have walked or traveled in open trucks for several days and nights in the bitterly cold winter weather," the U.N. health agency said in a statement.

"Thousands of new arrivals have been forced to spend several nights in the camp's open-air reception and screening areas, without tents, blankets or heating," the WHO added.

The camp itself is unheated and lacks health services, tents, latrines and washing facilities, but aid agencies find it hard to reach the location because of bureaucratic obstacles and the lack of security.

"The situation in Al-Hol camp is heartbreaking. Children are dying from hypothermia as their families flee to safety," WHO's Syria representative said, urging all involved parties to grant unhindered access.

The U.N.'s health agency said the situation in Al-Hol required urgent and unhindered humanitarian access.

"The situation in the camp is now critical. Its population has tripled in size (from 10,000 to almost 33,000 people) in less than two months," it said.

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