As Turkey braces for a new wave of refugees fleeing from Russian airstrikes, the Red Crescent has established a lifeline for thousands near the Turkish border, sending aid and setting up tent camps.
Turkey struggles to respond to a new wave of refugees from Syria, heading en masse towards the Turkish border, fleeing air strikes by Russia and the Syrian regime. While Turkey prioritizes keeping its borders shut, it has also mobilized humanitarian aid for tens of thousands who are internally displaced. The Red Crescent announced that tent camps were set up and humanitarian aid was being delivered within Syria, in cooperation with state-run agencies and private-run charities.
Kerem Kınık, acting president of the Red Crescent, said some 15,000 people were accommodated at eight camps in Syria, and more people were heading towards the Turkish border due to escalated attacks in Aleppo, where rebels are repelling regime forces and airstrikes by Assad's ally Russia. Kınık says bombardment in Aleppo effectively cuts the lifeline to the city and other places where the population is in dire need of aid.
Red Crescent, and the Prime Ministry's Emergency and Disaster Management Authority (AFAD), which oversee refugee camps in Turkey as well as aid to hundreds of thousands of refugees in Turkey, have sent 2,000 tents to Syria. Kınık adds that blankets, food, water, and hygiene kits were also delivered. "We are now working to expand the aid and will set up mobile kitchens, bathroom units and other types of aid to those people who need help immediately."
Kızılay officials said camps in Syria will soon meet the standards of camps within Turkey. Turkey is praised for its state-of-the-art refugee camps, including modern housing units, clinics, grocery stores and schools.
Kerem Kınık said that some 70,000 people are camped out between the town of Azaz and Turkey's Öncüpınar border crossing, and some have taken shelter in tents they set up themselves. He expressed concern that the number of refugees would increase if assaults continue. "The attacks blocked the route between Aleppo and Azaz, and this route was the main lifeline for aid to Syria from Turkey. This means the humanitarian crisis deepens because there is a security risk for the shipment of aid. Airstrikes target any moving vehicle," he said. Kınık noted that there were seven million internally displaced people in Syria and the blocking of the aid route would be a great challenge for those people. "There are signs of things to come, such as a rise in food prices, restricted access to medicine, and problems with access for patients and the wounded to reach hospitals in more central areas," he stated. The Red Crescent official called for international protection for eight camps within Syria.
The Red Crescent delivers about 20 truckloads of humanitarian aid every day to Syria. The organization's officials visited the As-Salamah camp near the Turkish border on Monday.
Syrians fleeing in panic following the constant attacks often arrive in relatively safe areas near the border with few possessions. Many are forced to take arduous journeys on foot.
Displaced Syrians arriving at as-Salamah near the border says Turkish aid is their "last hope." Nadim Shamil told Anadolu Agency (AA) that they were forced to leave their home because of "indiscriminate airstrikes" by Russia. Shamil, who lives in a tent set up by the Turkish charity Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH), said they have been displaced for 20 days. "Our children are cold, I witnessed the death of three babies due to cold weather yesterday," he says. "Turkey has reached out to the desperate Syrians since the very beginning of the war. It has opened its doors for our people. Now we want Turkey to open its door for us as well. We are aware that it has reached its limits," Shamil adds.
Mahmood Mohammed and his seven children fled their home near the border when Russian airstrikes damaged his house.
"I'm looking for shelter for my children. The region we had been living in is no longer safe. We are really in a precarious situation. We have to live in mud," Mohammed told AA.
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