Syrian Kurds call for international support to deal with influx of Mosul refugees

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Mosul refugees on the Syrian-Iraqi border. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Syrian Kurds have asked for more assistance as they struggle to cope with an influx of refugees from Mosul city and its countryside. Violence has recently intensified in northern Iraq, forcing thousands of Arabs to flee to the relative safety of Northern Syria – Rojava (NSR).

“When the Mosul liberation operation started, civilian refugees began fleeing the brutality of terrorism in Mosul. [They] have arrived in Rojava, mainly in al-Hawl,” Aldar Xelil, co-chair of the Democratic Society Movement (TEV-DEM), said on Saturday. “Tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees are expected to arrive.”

“It is our humanitarian duty to receive these refugees and facilitate their safety despite our limited resources. We have already received many refugees since June 2014, including the arrival of about 30,000 Yezidis civilians fleeing Shingal and parts of northern Iraq,” Xelil added.

More than 3,000 civilians have arrived in al-Hawl Camp, since May. The UN’s refugee agency and several NGOs have been supporting the refugees but their resources are limited. Xelil said that in addition to those encamped in Al-Hawl, “over 5,000 refugees have received shelter in the Newroz Camp of Derik District.”

TEV-DEM’s co-chair promised that the NSR would do everything it could for the refugees while acknowledging the constraints imposed by war against the Islamic State (ISIS). “There are concerns that ISIS fighters may try to escape and take advantage of the refugee movement to enter Rojava,” he said. 

The Syrian Kurdish leader concluded his remarks, saying that the refugees “come amid a state of war and siege on Rojava, which make Rojava even more isolated and blockaded. The arrival of refugees from Mosul adds a burden beyond our ability. Therefore, we call upon the international community to assist us in order to support these refugees and ensure their safety.”

Hozan Mahmo, a member of the Hawl Camp administration, told ARA News that thousands of civilians have crossed the border into Rojava over the past few days, fleeing from the fighting in Nineveh Governorate. Thousands more will likely follow.

Camp al-Hawl’s director echoed Xelil’s appeal, asking the international community to provide aid so that the camp can shelter “as many displaced Iraqi civilians as possible.”

The director told ARA News: “The camp suffers from shortage of basic supplies. We hope that the international community can assist us to cope with this unprecedented influx of Iraqi refugees into Rojava.”

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