Syrian Arab Republic: Afrin Crisis, Situation Report No. 4 (as of 8 May 2018) [EN/AR]
60,000 people registered to date in the Tall Refaat area – with the registration process yet to be concluded
135,000 People estimated to remain in Afrin district
41,400+ children under five years and mothers received nutrition supplies
$73m in funding required by the UN and partners in Syria to assist those affected by the Afrin crisis
The accurate determination of IDP numbers for those who left Afrin district is impeded by the slow roll-out of registration efforts, unofficial and unmonitored return movements, and restrictions for humanitarian actors to access all IDP areas.
While the registration of displaced people has been concluded by SARC and NGOs in many key locations of the Tall Refaat area, SARC registration efforts in Nabul and Zahraa remain ongoing, and KSA registration numbers for the Fafin area require further verification.
For people displaced from Afrin district, freedom of movement remains restricted, preventing the displaced population from seeking safety and services in Aleppo city or from returning to Afrin district. More than three months since the onset of military operations in Afrin district, there is growing concern about the risk of a protracted displacement crisis in these areas, impacting both IDPs and host communities, and requiring additional and prolonged humanitarian response efforts.
An estimated 135,000 individuals currently reside in Afrin district. In Afrin town and surrounding communities, the provision of humanitarian assistance and services by cross-border partners are reported to be improving, while the UN remains unable to reach Afrin from inside Syria. Data collection by cross-border partners for a multi-sectoral needs assessment inside Afrin district took place this week, and the findings will guide the ongoing response.
The UN and partners in Damascus require at least $73m to continue responding with life-saving assistance and protection services to those displaced from Afrin district to Tall Refaat, Nabul, Zahraa, Fafin, and surrounding communities. Additional funding is also required to assist those who remain inside Afrin district through cross-border efforts.
Military operations in Afrin district began on 20 January, and culminated in the Turkish take-over of Afrin district on 18 March 2018. While an estimated 135,000 people remain inside Afrin district, military operations resulted in mass displacement to Tall Refaat and surrounding communities, as well as Nabul, Zahraa, and Fafin. SARC and NGO-led registration efforts of IDPs who left Afrin district are ongoing, and initial estimates from SARC and local NGOs indicate that some 60,000 individuals are sheltering in the Tall Refaat area, predominantly in empty houses and schools that have been converted to makeshift collective shelters as well as in empty houses left vacant by previously displaced families. Registration efforts are also still ongoing in Nabul and Zahraa. Local authorities in the Fafin area and surrounding villages estimate some 60,000 displaced people are residing in the area, including 5,626 individuals in the Barkhadan, Al-Aser, Afrin, and Al-Aloushiyeh camps; however, earlier SARC estimates for IDPs in the area were significantly lower. Further verification of IDP numbers is necessary but remains challenging due to the limited number of partners with regular presence in the area. An accurate assessment of IDP numbers in the areas outside Afrin district has also been complicated by spontaneous smaller-scale return movements and some restrictions on access to IDP locations for humanitarian actors.
The lack of freedom of movement for IDPs remains a key concern, and most IDP movement are between the displacement areas, yet there are some reports of limited return movements to Afrin via unofficial routes. These restrictions of movement mean that displaced people continue to be prevented from moving to areas where they would potentially have better access to services and humanitarian assistance, better housing arrangements and/or the ability to return home.
There are reports of displaced people arriving to new IDP sites in Tall Refaat and Fafin from nearby areas, including from Nabul and Zahraa, reportedly due to being unable to afford alternative accommodation or access other locations where they could shelter with relatives and acquaintances. This has increased needs in existing IDP sites, where assistance is already stretched, as accommodation in the IDP sites appears to become a longer term rather than a temporary solution. Due to a lack of employment opportunities, the majority of IDPs in the area are reported to be reliant on rapidly depleting savings, while prices in the local markets of Tall Refaat are reported to be at least 10 per cent higher than in Aleppo city.
Humanitarian organizations continue to appeal to all parties in control of displacement areas and of Afrin district to adhere to their obligations under IHL and IHRL, and to allow internally displaced persons to either return voluntarily, in safety and with dignity, to their homes or places of habitual residence, or to resettle voluntarily in another part of the country. The frequently reported lack of official civil documentation, due to loss or destruction, remains a key concern, and the fact that partners specialised in civil documentation have not yet been able to reach several areas of displacement makes it challenging to address this assistance gap.
In Afrin town and surrounding communities, the provision of humanitarian assistance and services by cross-border partners are reported to be improving, with indications that all bakeries are currently operational and selling bread at reasonable prices.
Since the beginning of May, a hospital in Afrin town is reported to be providing free medical services to the affected population, including some 200 consultations per day. Another NGO-supported hospital in Afrin town has recently resumed offering services to the affected population, and is providing an estimated 350 consultations daily. In addition to the services provided by hospitals, mobile clinics are active in Afrin town and some 30 pharmacies and 25 private medical clinics have reopened since the beginning of May. The availability of food and non-food items is reported to be improving. Solid waste and rubble removal are also reported to be underway. With regards to safe water, civilians in Afrin town and surrounding communities continue to rely on water trucking services, as water through the network remains unavailable. Repair work of the pumping station at the Midanki dam remains ongoing with reports indicating that it will come into service soon.
Data collection for a multi-sectoral needs assessment through cross-border partners took place this week, and analysis is now ongoing to guide the humanitarian response and early recovery effort inside Afrin district.
An estimated 135,000 people remain inside Afrin district. In the western part of the district, an estimated 10,000 IDPs from Rural Damascus are reportedly residing in two IDP camps around the communities of Jandairis and Deir Balut. In addition to those residing in camps, IDPs from Rural Damascus have been allowed to settle in vacant houses. While some are paying rent, reports of IDPs residing in empty houses without obtaining the permission of their owners continue to emerge.
Despite a slight decrease, anecdotal reports of incidents of theft and confiscation of civilian property, as well as arbitrary detention of civilians by local armed groups continue to emerge. Those with perceived Government of Syria affiliations are particularly at risk. A curfew has reportedly been put in place in Afrin town from 9pm to 6am, which applies to both civilians and armed group members. The UN continue to call on the parties to the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure and facilitate safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian actors.