UPDATE: German aid organization cancels project to renovate houses in occupied Cafrin after public pressure

CAFRIN, Syria — German non-profit organization Welthungerhilfe (Hunger Aid) issued a statement on Tuesday announcing the cancellation of a project to repair houses of people displaced by the Turkish invasion of Cafrin (Afrin) in January 2018 so that they can be used to house people from other parts of Syria more loyal to occupying Turkish forces.

Welthungerhilfe’s decision comes after the protestation of 28 human rights organizations and media agencies, who decried the project as legitimizing the forced displacement of civilians and the Turkish campaign to change the demography of the region.

Welthungerhilfe’s regional office based in Gaziantep, Turkey, recently announced a tender to renovate 400 houses in each of the occupied cities of Azaz and Cafrin, allegedly to house displaced persons from other parts of Syria there.

In their letter, the protesting organizations pointed out that the assistance, while in good faith, contributes directly to the perpetuation of the reality of occupation, settlement, demographic change, and attacks on the private property of displaced persons.

The letter also warned of the existence of suspicious Turkish projects to perpetuate its occupation, carry out demographic change, and take ownership of property from displaced persons living in camps outside the area of occupation.

Welthungerhilfe expressed its deep concerns that the organization’s humanitarian endeavors might become a tool in the political game in Syria and would be against the organization’s four basic humanitarian principles: humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence.