UNITED NATIONS, New York – The United Nations has confirmed reports that civilians displaced from Afrin during Turkey’s military operation against the Kurdish canton have been prevented from returning home.
“As a result of hostilities and military operations in Syria’s Afrin… some 126,000 men, women and children remain displaced,” UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said this week. “In addition, an estimated 150,000 people remain in Afrin District, where access to people in need continues to be extremely limited.”
“Several parties to the conflict continue to hinder displaced people’s movement, preventing them from seeking safety in their areas of choice or from returning to their areas of origin,” he added.
He said the UN calls on all parties to the Syrian conflict to ensure freedom of movement for civilians and access to humanitarian aid.
Kurds have accused Turkey of instituting demographic change in Afrin – relocating rebel forces and their families from Eastern Ghouta to Afrin while denying the native Kurdish population the right to return home.
International players in Syria are not pushing Turkey on the issue. Countries like Russia and the US are waiting to see how major Middle Eastern events will play out, like Iraq’s elections and Donald Trump’s decision on the Iran nuclear deal – factors that may impact the stability in Syria specifically and the region generally.