Over 180 Syrian refugees have crossed the border with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and have arrived in the city of Duhok.
The Turkish military operation, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring” by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), ha led to the displacement of thousands of people living in the northern and eastern regions of Syria, currently under the political administration of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.
The outbreak of military conflict in the region has forced thousands to flee their homes and find shelter in areas away from the Syrian-Turkish border-zone where the TSK is conducting air strikes and is supporting Syrian rebel groups, namely the Syrian National Army (SNA), to undertake offensives against elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Civilians have been killed and injured in the crossfire, with over 200 estimated to have died as a result.
“The planes were firing missiles and many people died, especially during the night in Ras al-Ain and Qamishli”, said one of the displaced children from Syria.
The Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) lies adjacent to these regions in north and east Syria and has opened its borders to hundreds of displaced persons.
“More than 185 refugees have entered the Dumiz camp and we are now in the refugee reception centre. We, as a humanitarian agency in coordination with the organizations concerned. We have provided humanitarian assistance to them and will provide all available assistance to settle them in the place allocated to them”, noted Salim Saeed, an official working on humanitarian affairs in Duhok.
A number of prominent international aid organisations have reported that they will be pulling out from the region as a consequence of the increased insecurity and instability. This includes organisations such as Mercy Corps and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), that have recently announced that they will be taking their staff out from the region.
This makes aid organisations active in neighbouring Iraq all the more important for receiving refugees stranded in the conflict in northern Syria.