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"Doctors of the World" in defence of refugees from Kobane

03 November 2014 / 19:11:14  GRReporter
2279 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

The situation in the Kurdish city of Kobane in Syria is severe and will become more complicated in the coming months. Currently, 3-6,000 people, from the 75,000 before the clashes between the Kurdish fighters and the troops of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, have remained in the city.

Many of Kobane's inhabitants, the majority of whom are women and children, have crossed the Turkish-Syrian border and are in refugee camps near the town of Suruch. Over the course of 20 days the city with 90,000 residents has adopted an equal number of refugees, 70,000 of them being women and children, the majority of the latter being aged under 12.

The data was announced by three members of the Greek branch of the international non-governmental organization "Doctors of the World", who visited the region from 22 to 26 October within the context of a research expedition to investigate the situation and identify the needs of the refugees from Kobane.

"Once again we found ourselves in the great tragedy of war and refugees. We could not get into Kobane, although we tried, but the Kurds, who would transfer us, said that was not possible. Two doctors from the city told us what was happening there. The war is waged literally from a street to street, neighbourhood to neighbourhood and house to house. The fighters who are in Kobane have to constantly move to avoid being detected by jihadists," said Dr. Yiannis Mouzalas, a long-time member of the organization involved in many of its various missions and in troubled places throughout the world.

The doctors stated there are no ambulances in the city because jihadists had repeatedly opened fire on them. The wounded Kurdish fighters are carried on foot to the border, from where ambulances are transporting them to Suruch hospital. Mouzalas said that as yet there is no information on the number of deaths and injuries, but according to sources from Suruch, 500 people were killed and 800 seriously injured during the first days of the battle for the city that started 2 months ago.

"Many of the villages on the border line between Turkey and Syria are completely depopulated. Groups of Kurdish troops are moving in the region to help refugees from Kobane move to Suruch and others who want to move from Turkey to Syria to fight against the Islamic State. They have recently apprehended two German citizens who had tried to go to Syria to participate in the battles on the side of jihadists," said Mouzalas.  

According to him, although over the course of 20 days Suruch's population has doubled, the city is able to accept and ensure the basic needs of the 90,000 refugees. "The majority of them are living  in tents and the others with their relatives in Suruch. The municipality and the Red Crescent cover 30% of the cost of food. Their kitchens prepare 20,000 meals in the morning, at noon and in the evening every day." The needs for food of the others are met by their relatives in Suruch.

Some of the refugees are housed in two refugee camps built by the Turkish state. The members of the mission of "Doctors without Borders" were unable to enter them but indicated that the conditions there look better compared to those in other camps. They were impressed by the strict security there.

"We should be aware that there is a political problem there. Kurds of Kobane accuse Turkey of having helped jihadists. Therefore, many of them refuse to register as refugees, thus having no access to health services. The latest information we have, however, suggests that the situation is beginning to change," added Mouzalas.

He and his colleagues stressed that the likelihood of epidemics in the refugee camps is high due to the inadequate conditions for observing personal hygiene. "This applies to all places with a significant concentration of people. In this case, however, there are many children who are not fully vaccinated because of the war, which could cause such a crisis," said the president of the Greek branch of the organization Anna Maili.

"Doctors of the World" are determined to help and assist the refugees in view of the harsh winter coming. For this purpose, they have organized a campaign to collect specific items and food and hope to be able to send them by truck to Suruch by the end of November. This Saturday, 8 November, in the square in front of Athens University (underground station "Panepistimio") in Athens and in the square in front of the Municipality of Piraeus, between 09:00 am and 02:00 pm, they will collect only children's clothing and shoes, blankets, sleeping bags, children’s condensed milk, children's porridge, rice and pulses.

Tags: SocietyRefugeesKobaneIslamic StateSuruchDoctors of the WorldCampaign
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