Manbij Civilian Council calls for international aid for IDPs, warns of humanitarian disaster northern Syria

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A SDF member helping civilians evacuate the city centre of Manbij, where heavy fighting has been ongoing between the SDF and ISIS for more than two months. File photo: ARA News

ARA News

The Democratic Civil Administration of Manbij and its countryside on Friday urged the international community to provide humanitarian aid to internally displaced people (IDPs) in northern Syria.

“To all the organizations operating in Manbij, due to the difficult humanitarian conditions experienced by IDPs inside and outside Manbij, we are launching an urgent humanitarian appeal to help our displaced people as they arrive in large numbers up to 500 families on a daily basis, especially in the eastern and southern entrances,” the council said. “Please respond as quickly as possible,” it urged.

The town of Manbij which was liberated in August 2016 hosts thousands of people from either al-Bab, Raqqa, and areas under control by ISIS or Turkish-backed rebels. Most of them fled their areas and headed towards the safety of the city of Manbij and its countryside.

The Raqqa Civilian Council has also called for more support to help IDPs fleeing Raqqa–where fighting has recently intensified between ISIS and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Macer Gifford, a former British volunteer with the YPG and an anti-ISIS campaigner, told ARA News there is more need for humanitarian support to reduce the casualties. “When I was in Manbij, the YPG [a leading faction of the SDF] gave as much as food as possible to civilians, we didn’t have anything on us,” he said. “I saw thousands of civilians in Manbij asking for food.”

Gifford said he has sent many messages to UK officials and the British government asking for humanitarian aid for northern Syria. “We got to make civilians feel, when the SDF comes, there is support for them, shelter, and aid,” he said. “But the focus is not on the SDF [in the UK], but mostly on Brexit, and Donald Trump,” he told ARA News.

According to Gifford, there should be more Western pressure on Turkey and the Kurds in Iraq to allow aid in Rojava–Northern Syria. “The aid can be vetted and searched, it’s just to give shelter, and food. There should be unlimited access for aid to the country. And now we also got American and Russian bases and air fields, to which aid can be directly flown into the country in cargo planes and unloaded,” he added.

“There are large refugee camps and thousands of refugees, and they need aid. What seems to be happening that politics is stopping significant aid to hundreds of thousands of people,” Gifford told ARA News.

However, Chancellor of Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC), Masrour Barzani, denied in a think tank event last Tuesday that aid is being stopped.

“I am not aware of any humanitarian efforts are stopped from going into Syria and we have been contributing ourselves such as the Barzani Charity Foundation to provide support in Kobani, Efrin and other parts [of Rojava],” he told the audience at the Heritage Foundation.

In September 2016, the U.S.-led coalition delivered 200 metric tons of food that was provided to about 2,400 families through the Manbij Organization for Relief and Development.

Gifford said while the West spends millions of pounds on aid for refugees outside Syria, not a dime or grain of rice is being sent to anyone inside Northern Syria.

“Unless, it’s the UN that sends huge amounts of aid to a dictator [Assad] who uses it as a weapon of war against the people, this while the YPG [People’s Protection Units] and SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] give aid to all communities in Syria,” he concluded.

Egid Ibrahim, a representative of the Kurdish humanitarian organization the Kurdish Red Crescent, warned in an interview with ARA News that this could result in a disaster and that the local self-administrations of Rojava are already hosting thousands of IDPs and refugees from Mosul, Deir ez-Zor, al-Bab, Shahba areas, Sinjar, Raqqa and Aleppo in several camps.

“We have some organizations but they are not supporting like we want it to be. The UNCHR and UNICEF are supporting some IDPs from Manbij and Raqqa, and some other organizations, which I cannot mention their names. But their capacity is limited, maybe 10 per cent. The Rojava Self-Administration in these areas is trying to support all these IDPs and refugees,” he said.

“It is difficult to receive all these IDPs, especially since there is a siege on Rojava, all the borders are closed, and we have this problem now,” he added.

“The SDF-led operation is closing in on Raqqa city, so we expect to have more IDPs, and after the liberation we also need support because Raqqa is a big city and has been for 3 to 4 years under Daesh [ISIS]. It needs a lot of aid and help to recover,” Ibrahim stated.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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