Kobani Report: December 28, 2014


Written by Andrew Arnett

All photos by Andrew Arnett

The Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), based in Suruc/Sanliurfa, issued a press release on December 24, 2014, updating the situation inside Syrian refugee camps located in Suruc, Turkey.

AFAD is currently constructing the largest yet tent city project for refugees coming in from the besieged Syrian border town of Kobani. Covering an area of 1000 acres and containing 6500 family tents (16 square-meters each), the camps will include schools, play grounds for children, psycho-social support areas, sport areas, market and picnic areas.

It will accommodate 32,500 people, of which 17,590 will enter at completion of the first stage in January 2015. An additional 14,910 will move in during the second stage in March.

In addition, a water treatment system will be installed, including 20 washing machines. A field hospital and a fire unit will be set up to service the camp.

Downtown Suruc, December 15, 2014. Photo © 2014 Andrew Arnett

Currently, 60,000 meals are served to the refugees on a daily basis, in addition to 700 tons of fresh water.

Kurdish refugees fleeing from military clashes with ISIS insurgents in Kobani are systematically accepted into Turkey through a humanitarian admissions center in Yumurtalık. These are serviced by 1700 personnel in coordination with AFAD.

Other services provided include the distribution of 850 blankets, 20,000 diapers, and 30,000 units of infant formula.

35,000 injured Kurds from Kobani have been treated at the Suruc State Hospital.

Kurdish refugee camp in Suruc, Dec. 9. Photo © 2014 Andrew Arnett

The press release also made note of the fact that four refugee families from Kobani named their newborn babies after AFAD, the government organization currently assisting the refugees in Turkey.

According to the report, the mother of the baby named AFAD, stated that “AFAD met all our needs and extended its compassionate hand to us, took my daughter to the hospital with ambulance. Thank god my granddaughter was born in Turkey. We named her after AFAD as a symbol of our fidelity. God willing my granddaughter grows up in our own land and we tell the story of her name in our country.”

I had the opportunity to speak with Kurdish refugees in Suruc earlier this month, and found they differed with Turkish national policy regarding ISIS, but when asked about conditions in the camps, they were generally grateful for services provided by the Turkish government. In addition, the Kurds were unanimous in their support for U.S. led attacks against ISIS.

“The food is fine here,” one Kurdish woman said to me, “ But we want to fight ISIS. We want to return to our homes one day.”

Suruc, December 15. Photo © 2014 Andrew Arnett

On December 25 and 26, U.S. led coalition forces conducted 39 airstrikes, including thirteen near the town of Kobani on Christmas day. These destroyed 17 Islamic State fighting positions, as well as IS buildings and vehicles.

On Friday, December 26, four airstrikes destroyed three Islamic State buildings and two vehicles in the town of Kobani.

You can follow Andrew Arnett on Twitter at @AndrewArnett.

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