LARGE-SCALE AID EF­FORTS TO SYRIA CON­TINUE IN AFRIN, AFAD HEAD SAYS

The pres­i­dent of Turkey’s hu­manatar­ian agency AFAD has said it is be­ing en­sured that all needs of civil­ians es­cap­ing war zones with the YPG ter­ror­ist group in north­ern Syria are be­ing met, just as they were in zones cleared of Daesh af­ter Op­er­a­tion Euphra

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page - ÖZGENUR SEVİNÇ – ANKARA

THE HEAD of Turkey’s Dis­as­ter and Emer­gency Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity (AFAD), Mehmet Gül­lüoğlu, has said that AFAD is ac­cel­er­at­ing ef­forts to meet the needs of people as Op­er­a­tion Olive Branch against the PKK Syr­ian af­fil­i­ate People’s Pro­tec­tion Units (YPG) con­tinue in Syria’s north­west­ern Afrin re­gion.

Speak­ing to Daily Sabah in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view, Gül­lüoğlu said: “AFAD, Kızılay and other Turk­ish aid or­ga­ni­za­tions have al­ready started to work on ef­forts to pro­vide aid to the vil­lages cleared of YPG ter­ror­ists in Afrin.” He added that AFAD will step up ef­forts for re­con­struc­tion in Afrin when Op­er­a­tion Olive Branch is com­pleted, sim­i­lar to the model in the Euphrates Shield re­gion, which will en­able Syr­i­ans to re­turn to their homes.

The U.N. has called the refugee cri­sis from the Syr­ian civil war, which broke out in March 2011, the worst hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis since the World War II. It is es­ti­mated that 500,000 Syr­i­ans have been killed and 5.6 mil­lion people had to leave the coun­try. As a neigh­bor­ing coun­try, Turkey has wel­comed refugees flee­ing the war and has called on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to not be in­dif­fer­ent to the cri­sis.

Touch­ing on AFAD ef­forts in Syria, Gül­lüoğlu said: “In the re­gion cleared from ter­ror­ists with Turkey’s Op­er­a­tion Euphrates Shield, over 160,000 people re­turned to their homes. A hos­pi­tal has be­ing built in the re­gion and all the dam­aged schools, mosques and houses have been re­built. Chil­dren started go­ing to school again.”

He as­serted that Turkey pays the ut­most at­ten­tion to avoid af­fect­ing the lives of civil­ians in its Afrin op­er­a­tion. He added that AFAD has been tak­ing var­i­ous sce­nar­ios into con­sid­er­a­tion: “As part of a sce­nario, if there would be a mi­gra­tion in Afrin, we have been guess­ing that people would go to the Euphrates Shield re­gion or Idlib. How­ever, there has not been much move­ment since the Afrin op­er­a­tion be­gan.” He also said that AFAD has been con­tin­u­ing the prepa­ra­tions for build­ing camps.

Gül­lüoğlu said that build­ing camps for 170,000 people was part of the plan for the high­est po­ten­tial prepa­ra­tions, but cur­rently there is no en­su­ing need for this ca­pac­ity. Prepa­ra­tions will be shaped by the de­vel­op­ments fol­low­ing the Afrin op­er­a­tion.

“Since the begin­ning of the civil war in Syria, all of Turkey adopted the state’s open-door pol­icy and with all its in­sti­tu­tions has been pro­vid­ing aid to the Syr­ian refugees,” Gül­lüoğlu said, and added that Turkey’s ef­forts will con­tinue un­til the Syr­ian war is re­solved.

The first move­ment to Turkey took place on April 29, 2011 with the ar­rival of 252 Syr­i­ans to Hatay prov­ince, and AFAD opened the first tem­po­rary refuge camp in May 2011. Gül­lüoğlu said: “Cur­rently Turkey has 3,547,194 Syr­ian refugees. Some of them stay at 21 camps in 10 prov­inces of Turkey,” 228,169 people live in 21 AFAD refugee camps.

Gül­lüoğlu also said that hu­man­i­tar­ian aid or­ga­ni­za­tions have been work­ing re­lent­lessly to ease the suf­fer­ing of people, but un­less world lead­ers step in and stop the cri­sis, their abil­i­ties are lim­ited.

“Over seven years we have seen chem­i­cal at­tacks in Khan Sheikhoun, use of hunger as a weapon in the Yar­mouk refugee camp and the killing of civil­ians with the bar­rel bombs,” Gül­lüoğlu said.

Aside from pro­vid­ing the ba­sic needs for refugees in Turkey, AFAD ramped up ef­forts to meet their other needs such as ed­u­ca­tion.

Some 303,228 Syr­i­ans re­ceived gen­eral and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and 612,603 Syr­ian stu­dents have been go­ing to school.

Con­cern­ing health, 1,423,844 pa­tients have been re­ceiv­ing treat­ment in hos­pi­tals, 1,188,606 surg­eries have been per­formed and 302,228 Syr­ian in­fants have been born in Turkey.

Gül­lüoğlu said that Turkey’s aid to Syr­i­ans has ex­ceed over $30 bil­lion in to­tal, and that this has been rec­og­nized in the in­ter­na­tional field, but that other coun­tries need to in­crease their share in pro­vid­ing aid to Syr­i­ans.

Gül­lüoğlu said over 160,000 people have re­turned to their homes in the re­gion cleared of Daesh with Turkey’s Op­er­a­tion Euphrates Shield.

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