The Syria INGO Regional Forum, comprising 73 INGOs responding to the Syria crisis, expressed deep concern at the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation since Turkey’s military operation started on the 9 October. The UN estimates that more than 200,000 people have been displaced, and is planning to support up to 400,000 people with assistance and protection in the coming period.
Over three days Hasakeh city saw an estimated 60,000 new arrivals as a result of the violence, while hostilities in the area also damaged the main water station, leaving it out of service. 400,000 people, including 82,000 people in Al Hol and Areesha camps, now rely on the provisional solution of pumping water from a nearby dam that can only meet 50% of the needs previously supplied by the main water station. This water, which is of poorer quality, is only sufficient to support Hassakeh city for approximately 10-15 days. This leaves the population exposed to outbreaks of infectious diseases, especially as acute diarrhoea and typhoid were already two of the most reported illnesses in northeast Syria in August 2019.
To date, the most intense attacks have been on Tal Abyad, Ras al Ain and Quamishly. The use of air strikes and artillery in those areas, and in particular the 13 October attack on a convoy of civilians fleeing Tal Abyad, raise serious concerns that civilians have been targeted, which may amount to serious violations of international humanitarian law. Overall, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas has led to mass forced displacement and disproportionate damage to vital civilian infrastructure. With the recently renovated hospital in Ras al Ain again out of service and three health care providers in Tal Abyad rendered non-functional, people in the most affected areas have no access to lifesaving support.
SIRF is concerned that several major humanitarian facilities fall within the 30 kilometre border area in which Turkey has established a growing military presence, such as Mabrouka camp (which had 3,170 residents) and Ain Issa camp (12,901 residents). Mabrouka camp has largely been evacuated and is no longer accessible. The majority of its residents relocated to Areesha camp, but several families were unable to leave and now have no access to food, water or shelter.