The humanitarian situation in Afrin continues to be exacerbated by the ongoing hostilities. Over the past 48 hours, Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups made large advances. At the time of writing, Afrin town and surrounding communities are almost militarily encircled. Reports indicate some supply routes have been disrupted and that thousands of civilians have left Afrin district to the nearby communities in Tell-Rifaat sub-district.
Tens of thousands of IDPs remain in Afrin, with reports that the authorities are preventing large-scale movement of civilians out of the district. Those that have been able to leave have found shelter with family members, the host community, and in public buildings, including schools.
Reports indicate that Robar IDP camp in Afrin district which had hosted an estimated 5,000 IDPs, emptied after FSA groups established control over the nearby town of Baselhaya. According to local sources, some of the IDPs fled to Tell-Rifaat sub-district, while others fled to Afrin town. In addition to the displacement to Tell-Rifaat sub-district, an estimated 40 families reportedly arrived in Azaz sub-district from Afrin district. These families are IDPs from southern rural Aleppo, who were passing through Afrin district to Azaz around the outbreak of hostilities on 20 January, and have been unable to leave Afrin district since then.
In Afrin town and surrounding communities, the people’s situation is concerning. Reports indicate that people are seeking refuge in basement accommodation, and there are protection concerns with people living in such close quarters. Apparently, many females experience difficulties when attempting to undertake the necessary hygiene arrangements. Women also face compromises when seeking to feed their babies in privacy. Markets are reportedly functional, however, the financial resources of the IDPs residing in the town are depleted. Following a change in control over the 17th of April Dam north-east of Afrin town, local workers were unable to access the dam controls to pump water. The water supply has been cut off since 07 March. Civilians in Afrin town are currently relying on six boreholes whose water is not chlorinated, which puts civilians at risk of contracting waterborne diseases.
On 1 March, a humanitarian convoy comprised of 29 trucks loaded with relief aid, enough for 50,000 people, reached Afrin and Tell-Rifaat districts. The convoy carried food parcels, canned food parcels, hygiene kits, kitchen kits, mattresses, blankets, diapers for babies and adults, winter clothes for women and children, solar energy lamp, mats, medical supplies and water and sanitation items.
On 11 March, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) stated that in response to the increasing humanitarian needs in Afrin and Tell-Rifaat in northern Syria. An Interagency convoy is planned with SARC to send emergency humanitarian aid and supplies to the area.
In areas now under the control of the Government of Turkey and their allies, humanitarian support is being provided to the local population by humanitarian actors on the ground. This includes a range of support to vulnerable families, many of whom are elderly and/or infirm.