SYRIA: Civilians fleeing Turkish bombardment on the northeastern towns along the Turkish border. Photo: Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP / NTB Scanpix.
Read caption SYRIA: Civilians fleeing Turkish bombardment on the northeastern towns along the Turkish border. Photo: Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP / NTB Scanpix.

Syria: Thousands fleeing for their lives

Text: Roald Høvring|Published 11. Oct 2019
Turkey's incursion in north-east Syria is already triggering new displacements at a moment when we were just starting to see some people begin to recover from last year’s emergency and rebuild their lives. As many as 300,000 people could reportedly be displaced by a full-blown military escalation.

An estimated 450,000 people live within 5 km of the Syria-Turkey border. According to the UN, there are at least 1.6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in north-east Syria. More than 108,000 civilians still reside in displacement camps across the area, and hundreds of thousands more have started to return to areas devastated by conflict and lacking basic services. Entire camps are wholly reliant on the support of humanitarian agencies whose primary concern now is the safety and wellbeing of their personnel on the ground.

Overcrowded camps

“Their options are very limited. People living in displacement camps in north-east Syria are extremely vulnerable, they live in overcrowded camps that are wholly reliant on assistance provided by aid agencies who are struggling to meet the needs. We fear further displacement and spill over into Iraq could spark instability as more than 250,000 Syrian refugees already found refuge in Iraq including 90,000 living in camps relying on humanitarian assistance,” says Angelita Caredda, Director of the Syria Response Office at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

Fearing the winter

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians are already wholly reliant on humanitarian aid. Their greatest lifeline is assistance from dozens of humanitarian agencies.

“We hear stories of entire camps where safe, clean water and sanitation facilities are critical; winter weather will soon put even more pressure on agencies to provide shelter, heating, food and medical assistance,” says Caredda.