A displaced Syrian woman from Deir ez-Zor walks with her children in a camp for displaced people near Areesha, Hasaka province on October 8, 2018. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The United Nations is worried about the safety of some 10,000 civilians trapped in the Hajin area after reports of civilian deaths during military operations against ISIS in the town.
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the global coalition against ISIS have been battling to oust the militant group from the Hajin pocket, its last stronghold in the Euphrates River valley. They launched the operation a month ago and have so far liberated three villages and killed hundreds of militants.
The UN’s humanitarian office (OCHA) is worried about civilians caught up in the operation.
“Over the last month, scores of civilians have reportedly been killed and injured due to airstrikes or having been caught in the cross-fire,” OCHA stated in a report published on Thursday.
The OCHA estimated there are 5,000 ISIS fighters and their families in the area.
So far, some 7,000 civilians, mainly women, children, and the elderly, have been displaced from the Hajin area, fleeing to territory under SDF control.
Most of the families are staying with communities in villages just north of Hajin, though some are sheltering in makeshift camps in the desert, the OCHA stated, adding that there are reports some families have had to pay $300 to enter SDF-controlled areas.
Conditions in the makeshift camp are “dire,” with no safe drinking water, inadequate toilet facilities, limited food supplies, and no health services, it said. The OCHA is working with local officials to have the families in the camp moved to a more permanent facility.
There are also serious health concerns in northeast Syria – in Hasaka, Raqqa, and Deir ez-Zor provinces – where there breakouts of infection diseases, namely typhoid in Areesha IDP camp in Hasaka and reports of “acute bloody diarrhea” across all three provinces.