Turkey and Turkish affiliated armed groups continue to displace the residents of Afrin as part of a ‘demographic change’ policy in the areas under their control in northeastern Syria.
Turkey is reportedly financing the construction of new mass housing complexes in Afrin. According to local sources, there are plans to transfer Turkmen and Arab families from outside Afrin into the city.
Turkey reportedly sponsors the development of a new housing complex in Jinderes
It has also been reported that a Turkish religious charity association, called the Ihsan Association, is the main contractor for new buildings that are due to be constructed in the town of Jinderes.
Ihsan Association is known to be using financial aid that was supplied to Turkey by the EU as part of a ‘refugee deal’ that was struck between the EU and Turkey. The Turkish state is sponsoring the construction of 247 houses in a housing complex in Jinderes, local sources have reported.
Before the Turkish armed forces and Turkish affiliated armed groups took over control of Afrin, 98% of the population in Jinderes town were Kurdish, but this percentage has been drastically reduced to 25%.
Demographic changes in Afrin since ‘Operation Olive Branch’
The military operations carried out under Turkey’s ‘Operation Olive Branch’ led to the mass displacement of Afrin’s Kurdish-majority population. Whilst the UN initially counted 137,070 people displaced (as of March 2018), the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights later estimated the total number of people displaced at 300,000.
Large numbers of Turkmen families have been brought into Afrin, ostensibly and reportedly as part of a Turkish strategy to establish a ‘Turkmen belt’ along the Turkish border.
As a result of this initiative, the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights has observed that “the demographic landscape in Afrin has shifted significantly. Fighters belonging to Syrian National Army (SNA) factions, their family members, and people displaced from other parts of Syria have moved in to take the place of displaced Kurdish residents. By prevailing estimates, Afrin is now 50-75% Arab. Arabic and Turkish have replaced Kurdish as the language used in all official communications and public signage, and as the language of the school curriculum”.