After Turkey has invaded northern Syria, the Syrian government is also sending troops into the region. The situation of the Kurdish Kurds has been getting worse since the withdrawal of the US troops. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has been helping in Syria since 2012. In northeastern Syria, they provide health care, cash and other essential services. Today they stopped their work due to the attacks indefinitely. What is the humanitarian situation on the ground? Misty Buswell, spokeswoman for the region's IRC, reports.
ZEIT ONLINE: Yourhumanitarian organization has been working in North Syria since 2012. The situation seemed to calm down - until Turkish troops invaded. Now also mix with Syrian soldiers. How does this make your work more difficult?
Misty Buswell: The situation is dramatic. We are in constant contact with our local employees. They tell us that the past few days were in absolute chaos. Escape bombs, houses are attacked, civilians killed, many flee. We have to stop our work today because it is also dangerous for our employees. We can no longer spend any medicines, do not distribute funds, and like many other relief organizations, we had to end our humanitarian program.
ZEIT ONLINE: Washat changed by the offensive?
Buswell: Everything. Until a few days ago, everyday life here was relatively normal. The region was just about to recover from the armed conflicts with the "Islamic State". There was a sense of normalcy. Then Turkish troops marched in. The past few days have been like a nightmare for the civilians and our staff. Last Wednesday, 200,000 people were on the run - even though the march was only a few days ago.
ZEIT ONLINE: Where do the people go?
Buswell: That's all still uncoordinated, many have fled very quickly only with the clothes at body. The families could not even pack their most important things together. They flee to areas that are already overcrowded and overloaded. Some of them fled to Rakka - a city that was destroyed by the fight with the IS and could not recover from it until today. The houses there are still bombed, there is little electricity and hardly any access to clean water. In many places there are land mines in the city. Nevertheless, the desperate people now flee there.
ZEIT ONLINE: And in the rest of the Kurdish areas, what about the supply?
Buswell: The living conditions are catastrophic. Most hospitals have had to shut down and the few that are still open are totally overburdened. In many places, electricity is not available because power lines and pipelines were hit by bombs. The water supply system has also collapsed. The central water system was attacked and can not be repaired. But that alone affects 400,000 people. If the work is not repaired soon, the consequences could be engraving. Then we talk about diseases like cholera and typhus.
ZEIT ONLINE: How and where do refugees find shelter?
Buswell: A lot of life in a former school or sleeping out in the open, because it's overcrowded and you can not go anywhere else. As a civilizational figure you are the price of the invasion and are afraid of what to do next.
ZEIT ONLINE: There are reports that their "Islamic State" tormentors are using the Chaos and are beginning to break out of prisons.
Buswell: That's a big worry. It's unbelievable that this is happening right now. If the demilitarization now results in IS fighters and their relatives being released, the whole region is in danger.
ZEIT ONLINE: Wiesoll go on?
Buswell: We do not know. We are unsure for how long we need to stop helping people. We decide day after day, if and when we can resume our work.
ZEIT ONLINE: What support do you want from the political side?
Buswell: We hope for clear signals from the EU and America. But just the latter have been massively disappointed. Just last week, the government of Donald Trump announced that it will receive only 18,000 refugees in the coming year instead of 30,000 annually. This will affect life in the camps and the region. Above all, because other countries may follow suit. At the same time, the UN Security Council could not agree on a unanimous line to condemn the action of Turkey. There has to be a lot more pressure to change things here.