Head of Turkish Red Crescent visits Syria’s Idlib


The head of the Turkish Red Crescent has visited Syria's northwestern Idlib province as Ankara continues to send humanitarian aid to the region.

"Nearly 700,000 people are living in Idlib in around 400 camps. They are in need of aid," Kerem Kinik told reporters at the Cilvegozu border crossing in Turkey after visiting the region on Sunday.

"The main work we have done is to take measures to keep the flow of humanitarian aid in place," Kinik said: "We went to the region with our friends [and] reviewed our stores and distribution systems."

Last week, the Turkish military deployed fully-equipped commando units along its border with Syria after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted at further steps to secure Idlib.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is currently engaged in the area, which is under the control of anti-regime armed groups.

The action in Idlib comes after guarantor countries -- Russia, Turkey and Iran -- agreed to establish a number of de-escalation zones in Syria during a meeting in Kazakhstan's capital Astana on May 4.

After intensive negotiations between Turkey, which backs the Syrian opposition, and the guarantor of the regime – Russia -- a deal was struck to implement the zones.

Contingency plans

Noting the Turkish Red Crescent had seven humanitarian aid stores in different part of Idlib, Kinik said:

"We provide necessities such as daily food, bread and water to five tent towns in which our Red Crescent operates 12 orphanages, housing 9,000 orphans."

Kinik said the Turkish aid agency had made shipments to the area amid the possibility more emergency accommodation would be needed.

He said a possible evacuation of orphanages had also been discussed during his visit. However, he said "the impression we have received in the field is that is not going to happen".

"People in Idlib do not want war, they want peace," Kinik added.

Speaking to reporters in southern Turkey's Reyhanli district later in the day, Kinik was asked about a possible new refugee wave from the region.

"We hope that there will not be a new migration wave but we are working against this scenario as well," he said, adding that Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, AFAD, had also completed its operations in the area.

Kinik said the possibility of increasing the capacity of camps in Syria or relocating them in the event of more conflict had also been discussed.

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