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Kurdish Population in Syrian Rojava Dwindles by Nearly Half Due to War and Displacement

Gulan Media June 12, 2024 News
Kurdish Population in Syrian Rojava Dwindles by Nearly Half Due to War and Displacement

A new study reveals a stark demographic shift in Kurdish-majority areas of northern Syria (Rojava) due to the long-running civil war.

The European Center for Kurdish Studies and the Institute for Foreign Relations (IFA), funded by the German foreign ministry, conducted the research across 13 cities and 880 villages. They compared data from 2010, before the war, with figures from 2023 collected by an unnamed NGO.

The study found that nearly half, or 42.7%, of the original 1.2 million inhabitants have fled their homes in Rojava. No detailed breakdown by ethnicity is available.

The data also highlights a disproportionate impact on Assyrians and Armenians, with 62.3% leaving their villages. The study attributes this to threats from ISIS militants and Islamist rebel groups between 2014 and 2019.

The report further suggests a demographic change driven by the displacement of Kurds and an influx of Arabs. Kurdish villages surrounding Qamishli, Jindires, Amuda, and Derik (al-Malikiyah) appear to be most affected, with Kurds potentially becoming a minority.

Qamishli itself has seen a dramatic population drop, with nearly half its residents leaving in the past decade. The city also received an influx of over 112,000 new residents.

The study suggests this trend amounts to a form of "Arabization," particularly in areas near Turkish-occupied Afrin and Sari Kani (Ras al-Ain). Jindires, near Afrin, witnessed a staggering 77% population decline, with Arab settlers reportedly replacing many who fled.

The report links the exodus to Turkish military operations against Kurdish forces in Rojava since 2018. The US Department of Treasury's recent sanctions on pro-Turkey militias operating in Afrin further underscore concerns about human rights abuses against Kurdish residents.

The governing Kurdish authority in Rojava welcomed the sanctions and called for an international investigation into these alleged crimes.