UN advocates are calling for the full protection of thousands of women and children currently being held in overcrowded camps across northern Syria and Iraq. They fear recent ongoing hostilities can further worsen the already dire conditions of this highly vulnerable group. Following the Turkish incursion into northern Syria last month, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria reported that more than 100,000 people, mostly women and children with presumed links to ISIL fighters, are ‘lingering in makeshift camps’ in the region. Turkey halted its military inside Syria when it struck deals with the US and Russia for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), who are considered a’terrorist group’ by Ankara, to be moved 20 miles from the border with Turkey. The offensive faced international criticism over fears it could undermine efforts to prevent the Islamic State (ISIS) from returning in Syria and unleashing another humanitarian crisis in the already eight year long war. The Syrian Democratic Forces, were the USA’s main ally in the battle against ISIL in Syria. US President Trump has faced domestic criticism for announcing a troop withdrawal that was seen as a green light for Turkey’s cross border campaign against the armed group. The outcome, the refugees state, is a form of ethnic cleansing, an operation they see as intended in part to force out Kurdish residents and their sympathizers and replace them with Arabs loyal to Turkey.
Scott Mc Kiernan, Founder & CEO, ZUMA Press