Besieged Kurds host over 37,000 Syrians displaced by war in Afrin

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Kurdish fighters of the YPG [leading SDF member] in Afrin bid farewell to comrades killed during clashes against ISIS. Photo: ARA News

ARA News 

QAMISHLI – Since May this year, thousands of displaced people have arrived in the town of Afrin in northwestern Syria, being hosted by Kurds, while Turkey closed its borders for Syrians fleeing the fighting between ISIS militants and Syrian rebel groups. 

On Monday, more than 1,274 civilians arrived in Afrin [known in Kurdish as Efrin], according to local sources. 

It’s estimated that since 25th May, more than 37,052 IDPs arrived in Afrin and the number is increasing after ISIS started to harass and kidnap local Kurds near al-Bab and Manbij in northern Syria.

In total, more than 1,000 Kurdish civilians were kidnapped by ISIS in Syria. Moreover, fighting between Syrian rebel groups and ISIS are ongoing near the Turkish border towards al-Rai district, and the Syrian Democratic Forces are surrounding and fighting in Manbij city.

Most of the displaced civilians heading to Afrin come from northern Aleppo, also known as Shahba region, or from Raqqa, Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor.

The local security police known as Asayish registers the IDPs and then allows them into Afrin. “They come to stay with their families in Efrin [Afrin], or are brought to the Rubar camp,” Kamal Sido, a consultant for the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), told ARA News. “The situation is very difficult for the people of Efrin, they have little water, bread, no electricity and no fuel,” he added.

“It’s difficult to bring goods from Aleppo through Nubul and Zahra to Efrin, because Islamist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham, Nusra, and others are attacking the road between Nubul and Zahra and north Aleppo,” he said.

“Also, Turkey is making the situation more difficult for aid to reach Efrin, closing its borders for aid, and Syrian civilians are trying to cross the border at any cost in order to flee the war,” Sido told ARA News. 

Turkish border guards have killed several Syrian Kurds and Arabs that have tried to flee to Turkey.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called upon the United Nations to pressure Turkey to open its borders for fleeing civilians.

“Governments and UN agencies should end their deafening silence on Turkey’s abuse of Syrian asylum seekers and press Turkey to reopen its border to civilians fleeing the horrors in Syria,” Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch said in May.

According to Kamal Sido, civilians are fleeing to Efrin since the area is safe. “It’s not bombed by the Russians or Americans, and the local authorities in Efrin have a multi-religious project, and do not discriminate Arabs,” he said. “So far there is no help, the self-administration can help only, and there are also problems between the Kurds and the Syrian regime in Aleppo due to the cooperation between YPG and the USA,” he said.

As a result, the local Kurdish authorities are struggling with the influx of IDPs, but nevertheless are providing a safe region to Syrians trying to escape the conflict.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News 

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