Turkey - Syria Border, January 2015

A Refugee Camp

Moments from the new years day in a refugee camp on Kobane and Turkey border.

Wake Up

Explosions on the “Syrian Side” of the border were waking me up in the refugee tent I was sleeping. The war wasn’t stopped on new years night, too. Coalition drones were flying over us and hitting the targets. Freezing cold was not letting us think about what was happening there that much though. I finally woke up at around 5am to wait sunrise outside. Before the sunrise on east, the camp was lighted up by the explosions on the south, Kobane, where the war with ISIS was actively going on. After 15-30 minutes of walking around, the silence of the camp was broke by the babies crying. Then kids started showing up and smiling from their tents to me. A woman invited me to have breakfast. As the sun was going up, kids were leaving their tents to go to toilets, bringing their own water in a jug with them. They were walking as groups, holding each-other’s hands. One kid, holding his grandmother’s hand and looking at me with a shy smile… It was his first morning in the camp and I haven’t witnessed any other human being with that much of excitement and happiness… I’ll never forget his eyes, which filled my eyes with tears that morning.

Build

When I was asked “What sort of work you’d like to do?”, my answer was construction. The same night, I joined volunteers coming from Amed (Diyarbakır) at 11pm, and arrived to the camp near Külünçe village. Suruç is the small town where volunteers gather and organize, and it has many refugee camps that were full and not big enough. This particular camp was far from Suruç town but closer to the Kobane where the war was going on. It had approximately 1000 tent (10.000 people) capacity, and only 10% of the tents were built when we arrived. This camp’s manager was a young and passionate woman named Fidan, she was organizing the camp with three other people (2 women and 1 man) helping her. Being aware of the big responsibility of leading a refugee camp, they were very motivated and self-disciplined. After the breakfast (cheese, olive and tea), we moved to the construction area and the leads started showing us how to assemble the tents. We got splitted to 4 people teams and started carrying and assembling tents as you can see below.

Play

Children looked healthy and played all day long. They were smiling, running around and jumping, playing marbles, dodgeball, soccer…

Water

A truck that you can see on the below photo were providing water to the camp once a day.

Food

Although refugees were provided lunch and dinner by a van sent by Suruç City Hall, some women were cooking their own meal. There was also some grocery stalls run by refugees.

Move

Refugees are brought by a truck from the other side of the border to the camp. They were mostly villagers.

Portraits

All the people were smiling and making victory signs with their hands when I walk around with my camera. Many of them asked me to take their photos with their families and friend

Sunset

Once the sun goes down, it gets cold and people start making fire to get warm and have some light until they finish the dinner and go back to their tents to sleep.

Watch

Here is video of what I witnessed during my visit to this camp;