Civil­ians in Afrin en­dure ghetto life

Nearly 70 peo­ple have died in Turk­ish as­sault against Kur­dish rebels in the Syr­ian town

Gulf News - - Middle East -

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.

Thou­sands dis­placed

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.

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