Turkish Red Crescent ‘ready to offer aid to 323,000 in Afrin’

Turkish Red Crescent ‘ready to offer aid to 323,000 in Afrin’

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkish Red Crescent ‘ready to offer aid to 323,000 in Afrin’

The Turkish Red Crescent is ready to provide humanitarian aid to all 323,000 people living in Syria’s Afrin, its head Kerem Kınık has said.

Some 125,000 of these people are internal refugees who had to move from Aleppo to Afrin, which was captured by the Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) on March 18, Kınık told the Hürriyet Daily News in a recent interview.

“Our General Staff was in contact with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the U.N. and the Turkish Armed Forces allowed and protected the passage of a humanitarian aid convoy to Afrin city center,” he said.

The Turkish Red Crescent has already been providing humanitarian support to Afrin’s towns and villages and even allowed the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to carry aid to Afrin city center nearly two weeks ago, he added.

Following the decision for a 30-day humanitarian cease-fire for Syria by the United Nations, Syria’s Arab Red Crescent informed Turkey through the U.N. that it wants to transport 29 trucks of humanitarian assistance to Afrin city, Kınık said.

The agency head also commented on efforts to offer aid to Syria’s besieged Eastern Ghouta saying that as Turkey was negotiating with Russia and Iran for the evacuation and treatment of nearly 500 injured civilians in Ghouta in February, the Syrian regime tried to “take advantage of the situation” by stipulating the removal of nearly 400,000 people from the area.

“The regime said it would allow the evacuation of wounded people on condition of the evacuation of all civilians in the district. They want Turkey to take in all of these 400,000 people. They want to banish these people because the regime considers all of them terrorists,” Kınık said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke on the phone on several occasions with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Iranian officials, for the evacuation of 500 injured people in the besieged rebel-held district, he added.

The formula agreed on was the exchange of 29 regime soldiers imprisoned in Ghouta in return for the evacuation of 29 wounded, he added.

But one injured baby died one day before the evacuation and another one did not want to go Damascus on fear of death, so only 27 wounded people could leave the besieged district in line with the agreement, Kınık said.

He also noted that the Turkish Red Crescent is currently providing food support for between 10,000 and 20,000 residents in Eastern Ghouta every day.