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Austrian delegation visits border area close to Kobane

Austrian delegation visits border area close to Kobane

Within the scope of a solidarity visit to the Kurdish region in Turkey, which is currently confronted with a refugee crisis, Austrian members of Parliament have viewed the border area in sight of the embattled Syrian-Kurdish city of Kobane. The delegation which consists of SPÖ whip Andreas Schieder, Elisabeth Pfurtscheller (ÖVP), and Berivan Aslan (Grüne) also met a number of local politicians.

The parliamentarians wanted to inform themselves about the current situation, and explore in which ways Austria can help in regard to the refugee crisis in the already troubled region. Current plans encompass, besides others, financing school and women projects in refugee camps. Particularly women and children are traumatized due to the atrocities of the terror militia IS in the Kurdish territories in Syria.

Throughout the visit of the members of parliament in the border town Caykara, which generated a lot of interest among the Kurdish media, explosions on the Syrian side in and around Kobane were repeatedly audible. In speaking choirs, Kurds swore their solidarity with the defenders of the city. In the visual range of a hill, on which media representatives took their post, Turkish tanks could be watched, just as cars belonging to refugees from Kobane which are stuck in no-man’s land.

In Suruc, a town further north and near the border, the Austrian politicians met with several Kurdish representatives from Turkey and Syria. These accused Turkey of hardly supporting the Kurdish refugees from Kobane. The people of the embattled town were rather dependent on the solidarity of Turkish Kurds, which supplied them on their own initiative. Alone in the border province of Urfa there are almost 100,000 refugees. The Arabic-Sunni refugees in contrast were supported by the Turkish state.

The Turkish-Kurdish politician Ibrahim Binici accused the Turkish Government of supporting IS (“Islamic State”) terror and striving for the fall of Kobane. The co-chairman of the regional parliament of Kobane, Ayse Efendi, said that the Kurds had installed a democratic self-administration over the last three years within their controlled territories (Rojava), where ethnic diversity and women rights were respected. “Kobane will not fall”, Efendi stated convinced. According to her, this was also a struggle for human rights.

Schieder explained that the solution of the Kurdish conflict, which has been going on since decades, must be addressed within the EU and the UN, since it has been receiving too little attention. Aslan referred to a unanimously adopted decision of the Austrian parliament from 9 October, in which a humanitarian corridor for Kobane was demanded. Kobane has to be able to supply and defend itself. Pfurtscheller stressed the efforts made by Austria to restrain extremist tendencies and to punish IS returnees.

The Austrian representatives continued their visit of the Region on Wednesday to view a Yezidi refugee camps. Furthermore, political talks in the Turkish-Kurdish metropolis of Diyarbakir were planned. On Thursday, the delegation is returning to Austria.

For the original article (German), click here