Pekka Haavisto: preparations underway to help possible 100,000 refugees from Syrian Kurdish areas

Finland has condemned the Turkish military action in the region and says it will cause more displacement of people who are forced to leave their homes.

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Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto in his office, 27th August 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) says the international community is bracing itself for a possible exodus of up to 100,000 people from Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria.

Haavisto made the comments to reporters in parliament on Thursday afternoon, as Turkish forces continued a wide scale military operation into areas of Syria which were previously held by Kurdish forces with the backing of the American military.

US President Donald Trump announced suddenly this week that his country’s troops would no longer take part in operations in the region, which in effect gave a green light for Turkey to settle old scores with Kurdish forces and begin a military operation.

“The humanitarian situation in the region is of great concern. In the worst case, the Kurds remain in areas where they are difficult to reach and where international aid is difficult to arrange” said Haavisto.

The Al-Hol refugee camp is around 60km from the Turkish-Syrian border and not yet in the area of conflict. However Haavisto says Finland has been in touch with some of the 30 international organisations working in the camp to let them know the situation is being monitored.

There are a number of Finnish nationals at the Al-Hol refugee camp, including several women with children.

Earlier, Prime Minister Antti Rinne (SDP) issued a statement condemning the Turkish invasion. He said that Turkey’s actions could destabilize the region and cause another wave of displacement as people are forced to flee their homes or camps.

Finland has also decided not to grant any new arms export licenses to Turkey “or other countries engaged in war” in light of this recent military action.