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Syria: Displaced Ras al-Ayn residents still in camp one year after Turkish offensive

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People displaced by Turkey’s ‘Operation Peace Spring’ offensive in northeastern Syria shared their experience of living in the Washokani camp on Thursday, one year on from Turkey’s operation to take the city of Ras al-Ayn.

Residents of the camp – located in Syria’s al-Hasakah district – were seen collecting water, hanging laundry, and sitting in front of tents. Children were seen studying in a classroom and playing near tents.

Many of the camp’s residents are former inhabitants of Ras al-Ayn, which was captured by Turkish forces last October. Two residents showed how they were still keeping the keys of their evacuated homes.

“They [Turkish Army] have committed a massacre in Ras al-Ayn and destroyed the city,” said camp resident Ayman al-Sheikh Saleh, who lost his leg in the Turkish airstrike on Ras al-Ayn. “This is something unethical since they have also displaced us from our houses.”

“Living in this camp is tough. There are no proper furniture or electricity,” said camp resident Subhiyah al-Ahmed, also displaced from Ras al-Ayn. “We only receive some food supplies and cleaning materials once a month, nothing else.”

Turkey launched an offensive, dubbed ‘Operation Peace Spring’, on October 9 2019 with the aim of creating a ‘safe zone’ in north-eastern Syria cleared of Kurdish forces. It was suspended after an agreement between Russian and Turkish presidents in Sochi two weeks later.

*SOUNDBITES*

SOT, Ayman al-Sheikh Saleh, civilian who lost leg in Turkish airstrike on Ras al-Ayn (Arabic): “There is the key of our house in Ras l-Ain. We’ll keep them. Hopefully one day we can return to our house.”

SOT, Ayman al-Sheikh Saleh, civilian who lost leg in Turkish airstrike on Ras al-Ayn (Arabic): “I was at my house with my family when (the Turkish Army) started attacking us with airstrikes and artillery. Our house was completely destroyed and I lost my leg in the process. Many of my friends were also killed, injured and amputated. They [Turkish Army] have committed a massacre in Ras al-Ayn and destroyed the city. This is something unethical since they have also displaced us from our houses.”

SOT, Resident of Washokani camp (Kurdish): “Although a year has passed, we are still hoping to return to our homes. We are still hoping for merciful and moral ones, but up until now, we have not found any assistance from the US, from European countries, organisations, the United Nations, or any country that claims to believe in freedom and humanity.”

SOT, Subhiyah al-Ahmed, displaced Ras al-Ayn resident (Arabic): “We have been living as refugees in this camp for one year. We are suffering from hot summers and cold winters. We have lost everything we had and were forced to leave our homes; they took our homes, properties and everything we have before forcing us into here. Living in this camp is tough. There are no proper furniture or electricity. We only receive some food supplies and cleaning materials once a month, nothing else. We are in a difficult condition since we are displaced.”

Video ID: 20201023-030

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