Growing refugee numbers in northern Syria in urgent need of aid

Syrian refugees on the border to Turkey (© Ulas Yunus Tosun).

The co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), Ilham Ehmed, said that the operations to push out the Islamic State (IS) has resulted in refugee flows into the northern parts of Syria controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and that the displaced people are in urgent need of aid.

“We have gathered the refugees that came recently in two camps,” Ehmed said to ANF. “In one of the camps, 50 thousand refugees are living. A number of aid organisations are present but there are no serious aid efforts. Many of the organisations receive funding from Europe but they still don’t help,” she said.

“One can’t help wondering if they want Syrians to die, if there is a plan to kill them first with war and then with hunger. And if that fails from the heat and the cold. That’s the sad conclusion one draws from the situation.”

The SDC co-chair said they had discussed the urgent needs of food, housing and health with the US-led coalition without any results.

“This is not acceptable, they should at least provide support for the refugee camps,” she said, stressing that preparations must be made as the operation to evict IS from Raqqa will give rise to many more refugees.

“38 refugees coming from Raqqa have already died, some were children. It’s a tragedy. The European countries and the coalition must take their responsability.”

Ehmad stressed the need of mediaction, clinics and doctors in the camps. “This is really urgent. Some will be able to return after the area has been liberated but those who lost their homes will stay, so we must make preparations.”

Ehmad also criticized Europe for giving in to what she called Turkey’s “blackmailing.”

“There is an approach to the issue which goes something like this: ‘Let’s give them [Turkey] money so that no refugees will come here’. But everyone knows that the refugees are remaining in our region [Syria] at the moment.”

Last year, the United Nations estimated that more than 6 million were internally displaced within Syria, and over 4,8 million were refugees outside of the country.