The Chamber of Architects and Engineers of Diyarbakir has released a report summarizing its field studies in Kobani after the Islamic State (IS) offensive. The report concludes that 80% of the town is now rubble and that Kobani should be declared an “international disaster zone.”
The report notes that Kobani’s population, which was 34,000 in 2011, climbed to 120,000 because of the Syrian civil war. Of the 871 hectares [3.3 square miles] Kobani was built on, IS shellings and coalition air attacks turned 456 hectares [1.7 square miles] to devastated rubble. The infrastructure of the town was also damaged heavily. The report lists the major problems Kobani faces.
Energy: The town used to get its electric power from a Syrian hydroelectric power station. When the war started, power transmission lines were cut by the central government. The power station is now under IS control and no power is received from it. Energy needs are partially met with generators. This is an urgent problem to be tackled. Power needs can be obtained from nearby Suruc, Turkey. If political aspects of this can be overcome, it will be the cheapest and easiest solution. Technical studies must be carried out to generate energy from wind, sun and fossil fuels for Kobani.
Water: The water that Kobani once drew from wells on the shores of the Euphrates River was cut off by the government. The Kurdish canton administration mobilized other sources via its own means. But after the IS offensive, many wells were destroyed, resulting in a serious water shortage. These destroyed wells must be reactivated quickly. Studies show that soil composition and easy access to underground water sources will permit the drilling of wells. Urgent measures are needed to solve this crucial problem.
Food: Because of the war, all agricultural production has ceased, and some of the wheat stored for the town was looted by IS. Flour for bread production is received through assistance. Today, Kobani receives 20 tons per day of flour. If people return to their homes, the demand will be 70 tons per day. There is only one bakery producing bread. Turkey’s Mursitpinar border crossing must be kept open for the delivery of basic food supplies.
Agriculture: All energy sources and agricultural machinery needed for agricultural production are destroyed. When people escaped, all agricultural production and animal husbandry ceased. The land is suitable for dry and irrigated agriculture, especially near the Euphrates, but fuel, equipment, seed and fertilizer are needed.
Health: All the town's hospitals were rendered non-operational during the war, and temporary medical services are provided in totally unsuitable environments. We have been told that the canton administration asked for international help to build a hospital. This is a vital issue to be tackled before the summer heat becomes a health problem.
How to reconstruct Kobani?
The report concludes with recommendations for reconstruction of Kobani:
- Mursitpinar border crossing should be kept open as an official humanitarian assistance corridor to provide regular access to humanitarian relief supplies and materials needed to reconstruct Kobani.
- Unexploded ammunition, missiles, mortar rounds and mines left behind by [IS] have to be cleared by expert teams.
- The war damage inflicted on Kobani must be assessed, and the town must be declared an “international disaster zone.”
- Returning residents must participate freely in reconstruction of their town.
- Maps are needed for the infrastructure of the town center. If not available, they must be prepared.
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