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Families languish in winter winds, legal limbo at Syria's Islamic State camp

Al-Hol, the northeastern Syrian camp that houses thousands of wives and children of Islamic State fighters, is an increasingly desolate and violent place where a looming humanitarian crisis is smothering what hope is left.
Women walk through al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho - RC17E5312D40

AL-HOL, northeast Syria — Misery hangs over al-Hol, the dystopian refugee camp in northeastern Syria where tens of thousands of wives and children of Islamic State fighters are interned. On a recent morning ragged boys waded through the mud in plastic slippers waving plastic rifles at newcomers. From behind a chain fence, their mothers were watchful through the slits in their niqabs. 

“Take your pick,” said a Kurdish security guard who goes by the code name Eylul, in reference to potential interview subjects. “But no Europeans or Americans,” she warned. Western governments, loath to repatriate thousands of their citizens, including countless orphans stuck in al-Hol, have likely asked the Kurdish-run autonomous administration here to not allow journalists to convey their plight because of the pressure it creates.

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