Syria

Syria ǀ Flash Update #1, Humanitarian impact of military operation in north-eastern Syria, 10 October 2019

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Situation overview:

On 9 October, Turkey announced the start of military operations in north-eastern Syria home to an estimated 3 million people. The potential affected area includes SDF-controlled areas, where an estimated 2.2 million people live, including 1.3 million in need of humanitarian assistance, as well as Government-controlled Quamishli and Hassakeh city, hosting 450,000 people.

The scale of the current operations remains unclear, but partners are using a humanitarian planning figure of up to 100,000 people, noting that this figure is very susceptible to be revised depending on developments.

North-eastern Syria is one of the most complex operating environments in the country due to ongoing insecurity, high-levels of displacement and concerns about challenges as people move.

Humanitarian impact:

The humanitarian impact is difficult to ascertain. There have been reports of intense shelling and airstrikes all along the north-east Syrian border, from Jarablus to the west of the Euphrates to the Turkish/Syrian/Iraqi border. There are reports of shelling and casualties on the Turkish side of the border also. Air strikes were confirmed in Tell Abiad, Ras Al Ain, Ain Issa and Derek. Other areas such as Qamishli, Kobane, Darbasiyeh were affected by cross border fire. Local sources report that more than 50 locations were affected on 9 October in Ras Al Ain, Tell Abiad, Ain Issa, Al Malikeyyeh along the border between Syria and Turkey and areas 5 km east of Qamishli in north-eastern Syria. Qamishli airport was reportedly closed due to insecurity.

So far, reports indicate four civilians were killed as a result of hostilities. Initial reports indicate large numbers of people are on the move in search of safety from Ras Al Ain to Al-Hasakeh city, Tal Tamr town and to villages south of Ras Al Ain District. People in Tell Abiad have also been reported to be moving towards southern villages in the district and to Ar-Raqqa City, while people in Qamishli city have moved to areas in the countryside. Prior to the offensive, about 900 families reportedly left Tell Abiad city pre-emptively. By evening, unconfirmed reports suggest that a large proportion of the population of Tell Abiad and Ras Al Ain and other areas along the border have fled with estimates of 70,000 people newly displaced. Establishing accurate figures on the numbers of people displaced is difficult, with most people relying on local hosting arrangements such as staying with family in friends in areas further away from the border. However, there are a number of reports of schools being used as collective centres, with at least 5 schools reportedly hosting IDPs in Hassakeh city and two schools reportedly hosting IDPs in Tal Tamer Town. An NGO is conducting a Rapid Multi Sector Needs Assessment at the 5 reported schools in Hassakeh city and Tal Tamr today.

There has been at least one report of civilian infrastructure being damaged by hostilities, with the electrical line of the main water station serving Al-Hasakeh city and it’s surrounding villages affected by shelling and rendering it out of service. Damage to the electric line was immediately repaired but water technical team have not been able to reach the water station in Alok to re-establish the water supply due to clashes in that area. The Alok water station located 10 km east of Ras Alain city services water for Hasakeh city and all its surrounding villages. 400,000 of people in the area rely on this water source. This incident points to the elevated risk of hostilities on civilians in the area.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.