Human Rights

Fate of displaced Syrians remains in balance as Turkey prepares for Incursion


The impending incursion by Turkey into northern Syria will have implications for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) scattered across the region.

Following recent developments concerning the withdrawal of US military forces from the Turkish-Syrian border and announcements made by Turkey regarding an impending military operation in northern Syria, displaced people in the region find themselves in a precarious situation where there is a chance that they will be absorbed once again into military conflict.

Turkey is preparing to create an extended safe-zone, following the safe-zone previously agreed upon between the US and Turkey, that is expected to run 480 kilometres across the Syrian-Turkish border and 30 kilometres deep into Syrian territory. Turkey has declared that is plans to settle around two million Syrian refugees currently residing in Turkey into this designated area, which is currently populated by millions of people of several ethnic and religious denominations, as well as internally displaced people (IDP) who have arrived from other parts of Syria.

A significant issue in relation to this proposed re-settlement plan and incursion into Syrian territory is the consequences this will have on the management of IDP camps within the territories governed by the Autonomous Administration of North and Syria Syria (AA). It is estimated that there are approximately one million IDP settled in northern Syria with around 200 IDP camps accommodating them. The destabilisation of the region will reduce the capacities of the AA and SDF in managing the camps. It will also have severe impacts on an IDP population that will be living through deteriorating conditions over the winter season.

This issue concerning IDP is especially relevant with regards to the situation in al-Hol camp, where thousands of ISIS-affiliated individuals are currently residing. The recent outbreak of violence in al-Hol camp instigated mainly by the so-called “ISIS wives” has prompted members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to point to the dangers represented by a possible resurgence of ISIS given the context of military tensions.