KurdWatch, December 11, 2015—In November 2015 KurdWatch asked the village chiefs and a select number of residents in seventy-seven villages of the Jazirah how many people have left since the beginning of the unrest in 2011. Fourteen villages are located near the area around ad-Darbasiya, seven around Abu Raʾsayn (Girbawi), eleven around Tall Tamr, sixteen around Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Sêrê Kaniyê), fifteen around ʾAmudah and fourteen around al‑Hasakah. Before March 2011, 38,616 people lived in the villages, and in November 2015, only 13,860 (36 per cent). A total of 64 per cent of the population has since fled. In the fourteen villages around al‑Hasaka, where the armed conflict happened, only 220 of 2,890 people still live there (barely 8 per cent).
According to information from the remaining population and the village chiefs, families and the elderly generally fled to Iraqi‑Kurdistan and Turkey, and young people to Europe. Generally speaking, there is a disproportionate number of elderly living in the villages. Also disproportionate is that the numbers of those who fled tend to be much higher amongst the Kurdish population compared to the Arab population. Today in many of the originally mixed Arab‑Kurdish villages, there are only Arab residents left. There are practically no Christians and Yazidis left in the villages.
The interviewed village residents from the region of al‑Hasakah said the continuing armed conflict is the main reason for why people fled. In the other regions, reasons given were the impossibility of farming without enough water or electricity, as well as, in the case of young men, the threat of forced recruitment to the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG). Moreover, village residents reported that the PYD has completely cut of the electricity in some villages suspected of being critical of the party.