As the final ruminants of IS is cornered in Syria and with the UN warning that over 200 families were trapped in Baghuz, the last village in Syria held by Islamic State, it was good to see a convoy sent by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) evacuated men, women and children to safety.
The humanitarian cost of the crisis in Syria cannot be understated and with an estimated 300 of the most hardened IS fighters thought to be in the small area of land, the SDF are currently screening those evacuated from Baghuz and taking them to a temporary camp in the Hassakeh province. Once the civilians are all accounted for the SDF will storm Baghuz and attempt to rid the presence of IS soldiers within.
It is estimated that as many as 20,000 people have fled the area in recent weeks, including a number of IS fighters who have been caught attempting to infiltrate the evacuations, resulting in a large number of arrests with the UN’s Human rights chief warning that warned that civilians within the area are sadly being “used as pawns by the various parties.”
In this instance and throughout the entire crisis it is very hard not to feel sorry for those civilians who continue to be victims of the crisis. With the UK having donated in surplus of £2.46 billion in aid since 2012, we should be proud of what we have contributed thus far. However, when the IS on hold on Baghuz does fall it is important to remember that, although a significant victory, it does not mean the end for IS or Syria’s problems.
The “caliphate,” still has a number of IS-affiliated militants in areas around the world who will likely continue to carry out attacks even though their territory diminishes. This, along with the fact that the UN has estimated that as many as 6.5 million Syrian have been displaced by the crisis as well as the physical damage that the war has had on Syria and its infrastructure, means that there will be a continued need for financial support for Syria and its refugees.