Aid convoy arrives in Syria’s Afrin

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An aid convoy carrying humanitarian supplies for 50,000 displaced people has arrived in Afrin in Syria, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday, as Turkey wages an offensive in the area.

The spokeswoman, Iolanda Jaquemet, said it was the first time this year that the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent had got the agreement of the warring sides for such a convoy.

The ICRC is concerned that the fighting between Turkish forces and the Kurdish YPG militia is moving closer to a dam and water treatment facility that are vital for water supplies to people in the area, Jaquemet added.

The 29-truck convoy was carrying 430 tonnes of food, daily essentials, water purification materials and medical supplies, she said. Jaquement dismissed as untrue reports that the convoy had come under attack during the journey.

The United Nations has estimated 30,000 people may have been displaced in Afrin since the Turkish offensive began, but there is little information available. Jaquemet said 30 percent of the population of Afrin district was thought to be displaced, but she did not have any other figures.

“The majority are living in dire conditions and are hosted in communities and collective centers. The ongoing fighting has forced thousands more to flee. What we are doing now is to meet the most pressing needs of the most vulnerable,” she said.

Ankara launched its offensive in January against the US-backed YPG militia, which it regards as a terrorist group linked to Kurdish militants who have been battling Turkish forces in southeast Turkey for more than three decades.

Commenting on the proximity of the dam and water treatment area to the fighting, Jaquement said: “Were they to be damaged it would deprive at least 200,000 people of water.”

There are only four hospitals thought to be still operating and in some areas of Afrin people in dire need of medical care were not able to reach the nearest medical center, she said.

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