Life in Afrin returns to normal with safer environment, more investments

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 11.02.2019 00:15

The dark clouds over Afrin are fading with its liberation from terrorist elements last year in a Turkish military operation. Since then, the north Syrian province has been advancing in every aspect with the support of Turkey and now has hospitals, schools and local assemblies that provide a safer environment for the locals. Moreover, the region is now attracting investments that are slowly reviving both the city both economically and socially.

Speaking to Yeni Şafak daily regarding the developments in the province, the head of the assembly of Afrin, Said Souleyman, said they are doing whatever it takes to turn life back to normal in the seven newly established assemblies that allow all three major ethnic groups in the region, Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens, to represent themselves.

"We've opened three big hospitals and more than 25 clinics. Here, each day more than a thousand patients are being treated. In most of these health centers, the doctors and nurses had once fled from the province but then returned following its liberation," Souleyman said.

In addition to the hospitals, Souleyman also said they have opened 249 schools that serve 45,000 students.

"We've restored all the schools that were once damaged by the terrorist attacks. Our goal now is to open an international university with the support of Turkey," he said.

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to remove the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) from Afrin. The Turkish military and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) entered Afrin town center and liberated it from terrorists on March 18. Following the operations, Turkey has also been involved in efforts to rebuild the town's infrastructure, as well as health and education institutions.

With an aim to revive the economy of the province, Souleyman said they have accelerated their efforts in agriculture with, especially, the production of olives and olive oil.

"The Turkish government distributed seeds for wheat and barley to our farmers. It will also distribute fertilizer soon," he expressed, adding that they are planning to buy electricity from Turkey as well.

"In order to provide security in Afrin, we've established a security force that consists of 1,600 people. These people received their training in Afrin. We've also opened our courthouse that currently has 10 judges and prosecutors. We also have prison that is operating with the courthouse," Souleyman emphasized, underlining that all of these developments are being handled by the assemblies of Afrin.

He added that they are also starting to work on licensing all the weapons in the province. In addition, the assemblies in Afrin are also working on opening a land registry cadaster to control the demographic structure of the province as well as a chamber of commerce in order to attract even more businessmen to the province.

Souleyman also mentioned their disappointment in the international organizations that cut their aid to the province following Turkey's operation.

"Even though we have contacted them, they've turned us down. Before, when there was the People's Protection Units, they were providing aid. However, today, we see that the ones that sided with us before are no longer with us," he said.

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