Hundreds of thousands of people could flee their homes and lose access to vital aid and health care if military offensives in northeast Syria begin, warns the International Rescue Committee.                                            

The IRC is one of the largest providers of health care in northeast Syria, which is home to 2 million people, many of whom have been displaced by conflict multiple times. Any military offensive would seriously disrupt or cause the suspension all humanitarian responses in northeast Syria. This includes support from two IRC health clinics near Tal Abiad, currently treating thousands each month by preventing diseases, screening for child malnutrition and treating minor injuries. IRC mobile health teams are on standby to reach people displaced by any new military offensive.

Mark Schnellbaecher, International Rescue Committee’s Middle East Regional Director, said: “Many people in northeast Syria have already survived ISIS brutality as well as the devastating fight to retake the area and are now facing ever increasing uncertainty. Families are struggling to get their lives back on track and many are still reliant on vital aid including the IRC’s medical care, which is now at risk of severe disruption. The major powers involved in Syria must consider the humanitarian consequences of all planning decisions. The IRC calls on Turkey and the US to do all that is possible to defuse tensions before we see large scale displacement and suffering.”

More than half a million people were displaced by fighting in 2017 and 2018 to retake ISIS controlled areas of northeast Syria. There is concern that confusion caused by massive destabilization in northeast Syria could lead to an increase in ISIS attack, further preventing humanitarians reaching those most in need, as well as causing people to relive the horrors they have already faced.