Turkey, Middle East

Turkish aid group ready for operation east of Euphrates

Preparations finalized to tackle possible migration after launch of planned operation in Syria, says Turkish Red Crescent

15.12.2018
Turkish aid group ready for operation east of Euphrates Ibrahim Altan, head of Turkish Red Crescent

By Ayse Yildiz

ANTALYA, Turkey

A Turkish aid organization said that they were ready to handle any possible migration wave that would come from east of the Euphrates River after Turkey launches its planned anti-terror operation in the region.

“We have finalized our preparations to meet the nutritional needs of any migration wave and to support their sheltering needs. Our teams are ready to ship [them] to the region,” Ibrahim Altan, head of Turkish Red Crescent, told Anadolu Agency.

In his speech in Turkey's Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Altan said the agency displays the Turkish government’s soft power by reaching every part of the world to help people in need.

“We did all these works during Operation Euphrates Shield, in [northwestern Syria’s] Afrin and Idlib, and we provided necessary shipments [of migrants] to the regions,” he said.

On Wednesday, Erdogan said that within days Turkey would launch an operation in Syria, east of the Euphrates, near Turkey’s borders, to clear the region of PKK/YPG terrorists.

Altan added that efforts to meet nutrition and shelter needs of people in Afrin and Idlib regions were ongoing. 

Humanitarian assistance for Rohingya

Recalling the activities of the Turkish Red Crescent, locally known as “Kizilay”, for Rohingya Muslims since 2012, he said teams were deployed in Bangladesh, where a large number of Rohingya sought refuge, escaping the persecution in Rakhine State of Myanmar.

Noting that they were providing Rohingya with hygienic supplies, Altan said they were especially working on women.

“We are educating them to read and write,” he said.

Altan said that they also continued to provide humanitarian assistance to Rohingya community in Pakistan and Turkey.

“We have enough budget in Myanmar for Rohingya. Our people is so generous in this regard,” he said.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation, labeling as “genocide” Myanmar’s ongoing crimes against Rohingya population.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children, and women, fled Myanmar and crossed into neighboring Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.  

Humanitarian crisis in Yemen

Stressing the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, Altan said there had been a serious problem in the country since 2015.

“There are 22 million vulnerable people in Yemen. Our teams are in Yemen’s Aden since around two years,” he said, adding that 17-18 regions in the country were receiving aid from Aden.

“Last year, 13,000 tons of flour and thousands of food parcels were distributed,” Altan said.

Some orphanages and houses, where elderly women stay, were also repaired, according to the head of the aid group.

A group of Yemenis were also given first aid training, he added.

Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa and the key port city of Al-Hudaydah.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

The violence has devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, including health and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as “one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times.”

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