“The aim of this operation is to ensure safety in the region. When security and stability is ensured in the region with Operation Olive Branch, new flows will be stopped and those who are already here [in Turkey] are expected to be able to go back to their country,” the wife of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a conference in Istanbul.Despite her husband’s concerted show of political and military might in the region, which many believe to demonstrate his designs for the Middle East, Emine Erdogan stressed Turkey’s humanitarian efforts during the Syrian conflict.
“We face a moral issue in Syria, not a political one. People have been losing their homes, their family members and their health for seven years in Syria. International institutions, non-governmental organisations and states need to come together around alarming problems,” Erdogan said.
“Turkey has been hosting nearly four million Syrian refugees for several years. The government, NGOs and people are all doing their best to improve the situation for these people. There is no other country demonstrating this level of unified effort for refugees anywhere in the world,” she added.
“After Operation Olive Branch, nearly 500,000 people are expected to return to Afrin,” she noted. She did not elaborate further on the process of returning Syrian refugees.
Continued fighting in Syria’s northern provinces has spurred new waves of immigration across the border into Turkey, consisting of tens of thousands of families, according to aid organisations.
Reports that Turkish border forces have been shooting indiscriminately at fleeing Syrians led to Human Rights Watch (HRW) to issue an urgent plea to Turkey to end its use of “lethal force” against Syrian refugees, and to stop forcibly returning them back to the unsafe conditions from which they fled.
“Conditions in Syria are not safe for refugee returns,” HRW’s deputy Middle East director Lama Fakih said.
“With hostilities in Afrin contributing to the growing displacement crisis in the country, Turkey should allow the thousands of desperate Syrians seeking refuge to cross the border,” Fakih added.
SNHR: Most Notable Violations of Human Rights in Syria in 2017
Before he died, a Baddeck man decided he wanted his house to become home to a Syrian refugee family
By Wendy Martin, CBC News Posted: Feb 18, 2018
Shortly before he entered a care facility a few months ago, Bill Fraser of Baddeck, N.S., was thinking of what might happen to his empty house.
“He said to me, ‘Lorna, what do you think of this family of Syrian refugees? Could that be a nice use of my home?'” recalled his sister, Lorna Fraser.
Bill Fraser thought he would eventually recover from ill health and return to Baddeck. But he died last month.
Now, his sister has arranged to lease his house and has donated most of its furnishings to a Syrian family of six who will arrive in the Cape Breton village later this spring.
“Out of sadness comes good things, sometimes,” said Jennifer MacDonald, a member of the Syria to Baddeck steering committee.
She said the committee had been looking for months for a suitable house, but there was little available in the community of 800.
Fraser’s house is ideal, she said, adding that it has three bedrooms and is within walking distance of the school and grocery store.
“It’s also avoided us having to do any sort of major furniture drive,” said MacDonald, “because the house is essentially move-in ready.”
Big relief to have living arrangements
The Syria to Baddeck committee began raising money in November 2015 to bring a family to the island. To date, the group has raised close to $40,000.
MacDonald said there have been a number of delays, due largely to a backlog in the private sponsorship refugee program.
The committee now expects the family, which includes four children between the ages of four and 14, to arrive in March or April.
MacDonald said it’s a big relief to know their living arrangements are in place.
A man ‘supportive of community’
Lorna Fraser said she believes her brother would be pleased with the outcome.
“He was very much supportive of community, and what community could do for you, and would really want to be helping this family.”
I want to tell the truth and to tell people what is happening to us. We are besieged, we are hungry, we are under constant bombardment, we are exhausted from the displacement and the killing.
The world will not be able to compensate us for anything that we lost. We have lost sight of the sky and the sun because of the war planes that fly over us day and night in order to bomb civilians.
On Thursday, warplanes mounted yet more raids on residential buildings. Everyone went down to the cellars and we could hear the roar of the jets above us as we held each other’s hands.
I find it hard to believe the life we are witnessing here in Ghouta. Today I am reassured at least because Salim has left the hospital, but he is unable to move because of his injury. We do not know what tomorrow will bring.