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Afrin IDPs face new crisis as Turkey threatens operation on Tal Rifaat

By Rudaw 26/3/2018
The Syrian Red Crescent and UN agencies delivered 30 trucks of aid to Tal Rifaat on Sunday. Photo: @SYRedCrescent
The Syrian Red Crescent and UN agencies delivered 30 trucks of aid to Tal Rifaat on Sunday. Photo: @SYRedCrescent
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – More than 100,000 civilians who fled Turkey’s military offensive in Afrin are now facing the possibility of more violence as the conflict threatens to follows them to where they sought safety in Tal Rifaat. 

People are terrified and desperate, “trapped in a conflict they have absolutely nothing to do with,” Ingy Sedky, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Syria told Rudaw English. 

This is a scenario that is repeated again and again across Syria, she said, as people are being displaced for the second or third times.

They are now facing the prospect of having to flee again as Turkey prepares to extend its military operation into Tal Rifaat.

"God willing, we will ensure this operation achieves its goal after taking control of Tal Rifaat in a short period of time," Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.

Turkey’s state-run media is describing Tal Rifaat as the “final target” in Operation Olive Branch, launched against the YPG in Afrin canton on January 20.

The civilians who fled Afrin have already lost everything. They fled their homes with “nothing at all,” only the clothes on their back, Sedky said. The ICRC and their partners at the Syrian Red Crescent have been working to provide accommodation, deliver food aid and basic necessities, and ensure clean water and sanitation facilities are available.

Some displaced families are reportedly sleeping out in the open in Tal Rifaat, which cannot accommodate this huge influx of people. 

The host community itself has also needed aid. Sedky said they delivered humanitarian assistance to Tal Rifaat five times in the last year. 

Local health officials have appealed for international assistance, stating that their resources and the aid so far delivered does not meet the needs of the people.

Health centres, hospitals, and water infrastructure were damaged in the conflict, the health council of Afrin and Shahba – the region that includes Tal Rifaat – said in an announcement on Monday carried by ANHA news. The council asked for help to treat those needing medical care and to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. 

Sedky said it is difficult to predict what will happen if Turkey does begin an offensive on Tal Rifaat, but reminded all parties that protection of civilians must be the top priority. 

Tal Rifaat lies in the Shahba district, southeast of Afrin and north of Aleppo. It is under YPG control. 

The town is currently sheltering the majority of the estimated 167,000 people who have fled the conflict in Afrin.

Aid agencies – including the Kurdish Red Crescent, Syrian Red Crescent, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the World Health Organization – have delivered several convoys of aid to Tal Rifaat. 

On Sunday, the Syrian Red Crescent in coordination with UN agencies delivered 30 trucks of food and non-food items, including medical items, to the town. 

Tal Rifaat came under Kurdish control when the YPG-led SDF captured it from Syrian rebels in February 2016.


Outsider | 27/3/2018
Yes... only 2 years ago the YPG emptied Tal Rifaat from its Arab population claiming all are ISIS (keeping in mind it was only take few months prior by ISIS from government forces)... many Arabs from Tal Rifaat which live now in refugee camps speak about ethnic cleansing. .. yes the same superheroes have now to hide in Tal Rifaat because they lost their own house... I always say...don't invited a force which is not local... PKK ... now you pay for PKKs arrogance and mistreatment of people not aligned to their ideoligy and Kurdish fascist-nationalism, non-Kurds and Kurds alike... these displaced people who are now back as FSA want revenge. .. you (local Kurdish population) gave the non-Syrian PKK free hand to mistreat you pay for it...
Mahabad | 27/3/2018
The Kurds are freedom fighters. Death to anti Kurd.
Rujevit | 27/3/2018
Outsider So , you are one of those , who is not ISIS but you like to suport them. We in EU had people in WW2 like that, they where not nacis , but they like them ;) For them it ended very bad after a war. Why dont you wright , what people who didnt suport ISIS in Tal Rifaat had to endure under ISIS ????
Outsider | 28/3/2018
@Rujevit: ISIS is not relevant in this case. Relevant is the fact that only less than 2 years ago YPG forcibly removed more-or-less all inhabitants from Tal Rifaat (town and dozens of villages linked to the Tal Rifaat)...which were nearly exclusively Arab and the irony is that what YPG and done it has to endure on its own skill. (Please, don't start now to claim that all locals were ISIS.YPG only tried to connect the Kantons, the same with had nothing to do with fighting ISIS!) Overall, the simple...local Kurd has to pay for the miscalculations and errors of the YPG with its (Turkish) PKK leadership...
Outsider | 28/3/2018
@Rujevit: Sorry, I got carried away and did not respond clearly to your question... My reply: There is nothing to write...because no one, ISIS supporter or not, was left in Tal Rifaat...all Arabs were "cleared out" off the town by YPG...BTW there was also strong resistance within the Germans against it is by Arabs (incl. Sunni & Shia) in the Middle East...Overall, ISIS is the product of the ignorance of the West (EU & USA) for the problems of the Middle East, which were created by the same state powers in the first place...
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