Displaced Kurdish children play at a temporary shelter in a school building in the town of Tal Tamr, northeastern Syria on October 14, 2019 | Photo: EPA/STR
Displaced Kurdish children play at a temporary shelter in a school building in the town of Tal Tamr, northeastern Syria on October 14, 2019 | Photo: EPA/STR

The UN refugee agency has increased humanitarian aid in northeastern Syria after violence intensified in the area due to the military operation launched by Turkey last week.

Teams from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) have provided assistance to some 31,800 people since the escalation of violence in northeastern Syria last week, the organization said in a statement published on Tuesday. 

In Al-Hassakeh and Tal Tamer, UNHCR distributed blankets and other relief items to some 20,250 people in three camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) and to another 11,550 people living in communal shelters, according to the UN agency.

UNHCR said that it had also sent additional aid to Qamishli, including blankets for 52,000 people, and solar lamps for 20,000, the agency said. 

The situation in northeastern Syria
UNHCR said that it is working on figuring out what the displaced people in the region need. The agency said it is continuing to assess the situation of communal shelters in Al-Hassakeh, Tal Tamer and Ar-Raqqa with the help of its partners. The UN agency added that it is also assessing the needs of displaced people who are staying in camps. Many newly displaced families are reportedly not staying at the shelters, though - they have settled within the host communities. 

One of the problems UNHCR has found so far is that many people lack documentation - they left their homes without papers and other belongings. Families have also been separated and a number of people are in need of psychological first aid and psychosocial support, UNHCR said. 

After the reported departure of the administrators of the Ain Issa camp, situated some 45 km south of the border town of Tell Abiad, UNHCR mobilized volunteers and community leaders to arrange the return of identification documents to camp residents who were without papers. Humanitarian workers are currently unable to safely access the camp to provide critical life-saving assistance, UNHCR explained in the statement. Basic services, including food and water, are not being provided at the moment, it said. 

Thousands fleeing violence 

Due to the continued fighting, some 184 people crossed from northeastern Syria into neighboring Iraq on Monday, with a further 277 arriving in the night between Monday and Tuesday. Many of the refugees fled their homes in the Kobani area, some of them walking for three or four days to reach safety, UNHCR said. 

The UN agency and its partners, together with the local authorities, reportedly transported the group to Domiz reception centre in Dohuk where they were given food, water and other essential items, as well as medical treatment.

UNHCR said one of its teams met a man who had arrived with his wife and six children. He said the journey had been very difficult but they had fearing they would be killed after their neighborhood was bombarded. He said he had seen people fleeing in all directions, including towards the Iraqi border, according to the report. 

The UN agency estimates that another 2,000 people who have fled the latest fighting in northeastern Syria are currently close to the Syria-Iraq border. 

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