Preparing to scale up in North East Syria
An impending humanitarian disaster is looming in North East Syria. After the start of Turkish operations, families have already started fleeing hostilities. Over 60,000 people have already been forced from their homes. We’re extremely worried this could develop into a humanitarian disaster for children and families. Our teams are on the ground and reported hearing explosions throughout Wednesday night. We caught up with some key members of our team as Save the Children prepares to scale up our existing operations in the area.
Families forced to bundle up belongings and flee in search of safety once again
Alison Griffin, our Head of Conflict and Humanitarian Campaigns, said, “Our priority is to ensure that the best interests of children are met, and that essential support is provided to them. Our teams are still present in the area and delivering our programmes, and we are preparing to scale up to meet the increased needs.”
“The reports of civilian deaths, including those of two children, and several more injured are devastating. North East Syria is home to people who are all too familiar with the horrors of war. Many have been displaced more than once already. Imagine being a parent forced to bundle up your belongings and move your children in search of safety once again. With winter around the corner, families are worried for their lives and are thinking only of getting their children to somewhere safe and warm.”
People are afraid
Jiwan, a member of our team currently in North East Syria, said, “While the hostilities were largely localised to border areas, I saw families moving from major towns heading towards the outskirts further outside the border areas. People are afraid and cannot predict the extent of the military operations.
“The cities and towns where we are are quiet this morning, but there is an air of anticipation in the community as people are unsure about what will happen next. We are hoping, for ourselves and the children, that the conflict will not extend to other major towns”.
1.65 million people in need of aid
Sonia Khush, our Syria Response Director, said, “We are deeply concerned for the hundreds of thousands of people present in North East Syria. Currently, there are 1.65 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in this area, including more than 650,000 displaced by war. All essential services including food, water, shelter, health, education, and protection must be consistently provided to all civilians, or we could see another humanitarian disaster unfold before our eyes.
“In addition to the Syrian civilians in the North East, there are thousands of women and children living in camps across the area. There are more than 9,000 children from more than 40 different nationalities, from every region in the world, in three camps who rely completely and exclusively on humanitarian aid. Any interruption to camp services which are already overstretched would put their lives at risk.
“Children in Syria who have fled ISIS-held areas are innocent and swept up in horrific events far beyond their control. Their short lives have been full of violence and fear. All children deserve that chance to recover. But for the British children among them we can make it happen by bringing them to the UK. We can make sure they have the best possible chance to recover surrounded by the right care and support.
“The reports of imminent military operations and troops already sent to the border are deeply troubling. The international community, including the UK, should take urgent steps to do what’s best for these children and bring them to their home countries before access becomes even more unpredictable.”
“We call on all parties to ensure that all children and their families across North East Syria are protected.”