ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Thousands of refugees and residents in the Afrin region of Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) are in desperate need of proper medical and humanitarian services, Oxfam warned on Monday.
In an official press release, Oxfam, an international confederation of charitable organizations, highlighted the severe humanitarian condition of civilians “suffering from daily attacks” in Afrin.
The international agency called for “safe access for humanitarian relief” as recent fighting in the area has left over 140 people dead and hundreds more injured.
“The latest surge in the violence opens a terrifying new chapter in the lives of people of Afrin, many of whom fled to this region to escape fighting in other parts of Syria,” Oxfam’s Country Director in Syria Moutaz Adham said.
“Thousands of people, including babies, young children, pregnant women and the elderly, are now trapped, facing a terrifying and potentially deadly situation,” he added.
The humanitarian agency urged “warring parties” to allow innocent people caught in the cross-fire a chance “to safely escape the violence.”
The attack on Afrin is now in its third week as dozens of civilians, including children and women, were reported to have been killed by Turkish air raids and shelling.
Turkish warplanes began striking the Kurdish city of Afrin on Jan. 20 with ground troops entering the region as well.
The campaign dubbed “Operation Olive Branch” by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is meant to clear Syria’s Kurdish-held northwest district of People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters who Turkey claims are an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Ankara has labeled the US-backed Kurdish forces a “terrorist organization” and has been infuriated by Washington’s support for the YPG.
The US, which is backing the Kurds in the ongoing battle against IS in Syria, said it was concerned and has called on Turkey to limit its military offensive in the Kurdish region.
Kurdistan 24 correspondent Akram Salih, who arrived in Afrin with his team last week, said the bombing has targeted villages which the Turkish army is seeking to move toward but have not made any progress.