Blocked from humanitarian aid, Afrin Kurds experience hardships in Serdem Camp

“The humanitarian situation in the camp is not good. There are many obstacles which prevent aid from coming in or people from leaving the camp.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Hundreds of people who were displaced from the Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) region of Afrin continue to experience hardships in a refugee camp in northwestern Syria as their future hangs in limbo.

One of the most significant issues Kurds at the Serdem Camp in the Syrian Kurdish canton of Shahba face is access to adequate humanitarian aid, including clean water, medicine, and basic services.

The Democratic Self-Administration of Afrin established the Serdem Camp on March 29, 2018, shortly after a Turkish-led incursion into the former Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin. Turkey’s military operation led to the displacement of thousands of Kurds and the killing of scores more.

The canton of Shahba, located in Tel Rifaat, north of Aleppo province, was an area once under the control of the so-called Islamic State before Syrian Kurdish forces liberated the region in 2016.

During their three-year reign in the area, the terror group planted thousands of land mines in buildings and residential places, which posed a danger to the waves of displaced persons fleeing Afrin from the west.

The camp began to receive displaced people from Afrin on April 10, 2018, and currently houses over 1,400 refugees, many of them women and children.   

To make matters worse, the Shahba area has been cut off from humanitarian aid by both the Syrian regime, on the one hand, and Turkish-backed forces, on the other.

Saliha Mihemed, an administrative member at the Serdem Camp, said the staff is doing all they can to help people despite the ongoing obstacles.

“The humanitarian situation in the camp is not good. There are many obstacles which prevent aid from coming in or people from leaving the camp,” Mihemed told Kurdistan 24.

“Despite this, we continue to persevere and provide all the assistance we can to the vulnerable people here.”

The Kurdish Red Crescent is one of the only organizations which has been able to provide relief to people at the refugee camp.

In many cases, people who require medical aid are prevented from leaving the camp to enter Aleppo or are forced to pay taxes before they are allowed entry, one of the displaced told Kurdistan 24.

“We continue to suffer many hardships, and there is a lack of services. As a result, many people are falling ill and are unable to leave the camp to receive adequate medical attention,” Raparin Khalil stated.

“Our people are suffering and are in a difficult situation mainly due to the literal roadblocks.”

Until now, there is no concrete solution to the plight of the displaced Kurds from Afrin. Many of them, however, say they are willing to endure every and all hardship if it means they will return to their homes once again.

(Additional reporting by Akram Salih)