Civilians in Afrin endure ghetto life
Nearly 70 people have died in Turkish assault against Kurdish rebels in the Syrian town
Day and night, the members of seven displaced families file in and out of the single bathroom and kitchen they share in a cramped apartment in the Syrian town of Afrin.
Dozens of families have flooded the town to escape a threeweek assault by Turkey and allied Syrian rebels on towns and villages along the border.
Among them is Amuna Hassan’s family. “We sleep sitting up. What kind of sleep is that,” laments the elderly woman. “Maybe a bomb will go off and we’ll all just die together.”
Hassan, her children, and their families fled Jandairis, a border town southwest of Afrin, as Turkish bombardment of the area ramped up.
They settled in a small apartment with a half-dozen other families. Behind her, women and children in bright, patterned clothes sat on a row of cushions.
“The bathroom doesn’t work. We haven’t bathed in 20 days, but we just want food to eat — you think we’re thinking about showers?” says Hassan, her hair covered in a grey scarf with violet polka dots.
Turkey and allied Syrian rebels launched their offensive on January 20 to fight the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara brands a terror group.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor says nearly 70 civilians have died in the assault, but Turkey says it is doing everything in its power to prevent civilian casualties.
Most of the bombardment has hit border towns and villages, forcing residents to flee inland to the town of Afrin and board up with relatives.
The United Nations estimates that between 15,000 and 30,000 have been displaced by the Turkish-led offensive to other parts of Afrin district.
Local authorities have sealed off access routes to other parts of Syria, the UN has said.
Abdul Haj Ahmad, 49, and his 12-member family left everything behind in their native village of Shaikh Mohammad, northwest of Afrin town.
Once in Afrin, they settled in a relative’s modest apartment — already overflowing with other displaced families.
“We’re nine families. Nearly 40 people sharing one kitchen and one bathroom,” Ahmad says.
Members of seven displaced Syrian families gather in an apartment in the town of Afrin after fleeing Turkish raids.