|Turkish border guards watch ISIS militants in Syria order refugees away from the Tal Abyad-Akçakale border crossing in June 2015. Photo: AFP|
The UNHCR says it has alerted Turkey of the situation and reiterates the rights to refugee protection and safe passage, as enshrined in international law.
Medical aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported yesterday that it was evacuating its staff and patients from the hospital in Al Salamah because of the ISIS offensive in Azaz, again citing concern for those trapped between the terrorist group and the Turkish border.
“For some months, the front line has been around seven kilometers away from the hospital. Now it is only three kilometers from Al Salamah town,” said Pablo Marco, MSF’s operations manager for the Middle East in a statement on its website.
Noting that people are “trapped between the Turkish border and active front lines,” Marco said, “There is nowhere for people to flee to as the fighting gets closer.”
Human Rights Watch has condemned Turkey for keeping the border closed and the international community for not demanding Turkey allow the thousands of refugees to cross the border. The monitoring agency described it as two walls: one the physical border of the Turkish guards who have reportedly shot at Syrian asylum seekers and the second, “a wall of silence by the rest of the world.”
Human Rights Watch accused the international community and the United Nations of “turn[ing] a blind eye to Turkey’s breach of international law.”
Refugee camps along the border have come under attack from ISIS. And on May 5, Kamuna camp was hit by three airstrikes that killed at least 20.
Refugees who have tried to cross the border have come under fire from Turkish border guards, reported Human Rights Watch.
“The fact that Turkey is generously hosting more than 2.5 million Syrians does not give it a right to shut its border to other endangered Syrians,” said the monitoring group in a statement posted on its website Friday.
The Islamic State has advanced in the area this week, seizing territory from Turkish-backed fighters along the border.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—165,000 civilians are trapped between the Turkish border and an ISIS offensive near the town of Azaz in northern Syria. Their plight has raised the concern of multiple organizations who have called on Turkey to open the border.
“The UNHCR is deeply concerned about the plight of some 165,000 displaced persons reportedly massing near the Syrian town of Azaz in northern Syria,” said the UN refugee agency in a statement on their website on Saturday.