Turkey, UN set up joint camps for refugees in Idlib

Published 23.07.2019 00:21

In cooperation with the United Nations, Turkey set up 400 camps in northwestern Syria's Idlib province where hundreds of thousands of civilians fled to after heavy bombardment by the Syrian regime and its backers.

The Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), which is a Turkish nongovernmental organization, organized camps in the Tur Laha village of Idlib for civilians who fled from the bombardments that were intensified by the Syrian regime and its supporters since late April. Some 400 families and disabled people were placed in the camp that stretches over 30,000 square meters. "We distributed equipment including tent, emergency food and hygiene packages to the families in the camp," the foundation's Syria coordinator Zeki Tahiroğlu said yesterday in a statement.

He also added that at least 550,000 civilians were displaced due to violent airstrikes and sought refuge in areas near the Turkey-Syria border.

Being the last opposition enclave, Idlib's prewar population of 1.5 million has swelled to around 3 million with new refugee waves after it was designated a de-escalation zone under the Astana agreement between Turkey, Russia and Iran in May 2017 to pave the way for a permanent political solution in Syria. Tens of thousands of Syrians trapped in other parts of the country were evacuated there under various cease-fire agreements.

Tahiroğlu stressed that the IHH and the U.N. joined forces to provide humanitarian aid, adding that there are still thousands of families in need of help even though the civilians in the camp were provided with well water and sanitation means. "As winter draws nearer, it is essential that further camps be established for these families," he said.

The Assad regime's intermittent attacks and bombardment have killed, wounded and displaced thousands of people in Idlib. Civilian areas have been destroyed by indiscriminate attacks, while numerous educational facilities, health facilities and residential areas have collapsed or have become unusable after being targeted by bombs.

Despite the fact that almost three months have passed since the Assad regime launched the offensive, it has suffered from grave losses and made no gains on the ground, except some areas that often change hands.

The Istanbul-based charity group has carried out many humanitarian aid campaigns since the Syrian civil war started in 2011 when the Syrian regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity and has provided civilians with food, shelter, health care and education. As the conflict escalated, Turkey stepped up and strived to establish safe zones in Syria while hosting nearly 3.9 million Syrian refugees, hosting the most in the world.

The country has spent nearly $40 billion on the needs of refugees living in tent camps and those living outside the camps on their own.

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