On February 7, 2020, the Turkish Heritage Organization hosted a teleconference on “What’s Happening in Idlib?” with Dr. Waleed Tamer, President of the North Free Doctors Syndicate (calling in from Idlib), Professor Ferhat Pirincci, Dept. of International Relations at Uludag University, Ghassan Hitto, Co-Founder & CEO, Syrian Forum- First Head of an Interim Government, and Ammar Al Salmo, a Board Member of the White Helmets.
Tamer, Pirincci, Hitto, and Al Salmo discussed the harsh realities of the humanitarian situation in Idlib, Syria. A lack of infrastructure, constant violence, an abundance of displaced persons, and terrible living conditions – such as limited food, water, shelter, and medical supplies – has created a “humanitarian crisis that is on the rise and if the bombardment does not stop, we are looking at catastrophe with a magnitude that has become difficult to manage by the international community” (Ghassan Hitto). The speakers addressed the causes of these conditions and steps the international community and humanitarian organizations must take (or may take, depending on geo-politics), to help address the issues.
The refugee crisis was also touched upon during the teleconference, including points regarding Turkey’s role in taking in refugees and the conditions in which the refugees live. Al Samo points out that “the young people have to be in fear of their lives and their schools and hospitals have been destroyed. There are entire civilian towns that have been destroyed and emptied, and people are displaced and now in overcrowded and underserved camps near the border with turkey.”
Before moving on to questions from the audience, the speakers also discussed the role that foreign powers, such as Russia, Iran, the US, and Turkey have played, or have not, in both the war in Syria and the humanitarian efforts in Idlib. Pirincci noted that “turkey is doing its best to deal with the challenges it's facing” but it can not solve all of these immense problems without help from other powers and organizations. All the speakers made clear that the humanitarian situation in Idlib is dier and substantial aid is needed immediately.
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