By Lale Koklu
HATAY, Turkey (AA) – Head of the Turkish Red Crescent Kerem Kinik said Turkey was the only hope of the oppressed people in Syria as the world was turning a blind eye to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country.
“We are the only hope of these people. We alone have remained behind to bring these people back to life, to help raise their voices, to become their conscience, and to give them their normal lives back,” Kinik told Anadolu Agency in the southern province of Hatay on the Syrian border.
He underlined that Turkish troops in northern Syria had been selflessly endeavoring “to put an end to this crisis “.
The Turkish Red Crescent, along with the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) as well as a number of other aid organizations have all been involved in the humanitarian aspect of Operation Olive Branch since its beginning in the Afrin region in northwestern Syria.
Kinik noted they made a list of the people living in the towns cleared from the terrorists and also determined their needs. They regularly provided humanitarian aid to the people in Afrin in coordination with AFAD and the Turkish military.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Red Crescent has launched a month-long campaign named “the Duty of Compassion ” in order to collect aid from across Turkey and deliver them to the people inside Syria.
– ‘YPG and Syrian regime do not allow exit of civilians’
Kinik emphasized that the Turkish Red Crescent was also involved in an exacting lobbying work at the UN to create safe passages for civilians to leave the conflict zones in Afrin, particularly for the people who wanted to go back to the safe areas in northern Aleppo.
“There are 323,000 people living in Afrin, of whom about 125,000 migrated from the north of Aleppo. These people want to get out of Afrin, they want to return to their old homes in Aleppo. But unfortunately terrorist YPG elements and the Syrian regime do not allow the exit of these civilians. They haven’t opened the roads to Aleppo.
“In fact, the simplest thing to do here is to evacuate the civilians while there is an ongoing fight against terrorist organizations, ” Kinik said. “But the parties Turkey has been fighting do not allow the civilians in the region to leave, because they want to use them as human shields. ”
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear the YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria, and to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region.
The operation also aims to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty, the Turkish military has repeatedly stated, adding that only terror targets are being destroyed and that “utmost care ” is being shown to avoid harming civilians.
– ‘The world has closed its eyes’
Mentioning the ongoing attacks on civilians in Syria, particularly in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, Kinik noted that the world had closed its eyes and was doing nothing to stop the humanitarian catastrophe.
“The world has closed its eyes and it no longer cares about the increase of the sufferings there [in Syria]. In the last month, around 1,000 civilians have been killed in Ghouta, among them 200 children and 200 women, ” he added.
He said there were about 12 million people in Syria in need of aid.
“Turkey is the only hope of these people.”
Eastern Ghouta has been under siege for the last five years, and humanitarian access to the area, which is home to some 400,000 people, has been completely cut off.
In the past eight months, Bashar al-Assad regime forces have intensified their siege on the region, making it nearly impossible for food or medicine to get into the district and leaving thousands of patients in need of treatment.
Hundreds have been killed by regime airstrikes in recent days.
Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since March 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Although Syrian regime officials claim that the death toll in Syria is close to 10,000, UN officials say hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict so far.