Hardships, heartbreak for fleeing Syrian Kurds

2014-09-23 05:00
Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community arrive at Nowruz camp, in Derike, Syria. (File, AP)

Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community arrive at Nowruz camp, in Derike, Syria. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Yumurtalik - Osmane Sero has been at it since dawn, pacing back and forth in front of a line of Turkish police by the border with Syria.

Clutched in his wrinkled hand is his Syrian passport and a photograph of a smiling five-year-old girl.

Fleeing the advance of Islamic State group jihadists on Ain al-Arab, Syria's third-largest Kurdish town, the old man managed to find refuge in Turkey like tens of thousands of other Syrian Kurds.

But in the chaos reigning at the border, he lost track of his granddaughter Fatmah.

And he is exhausted.

"There were so many people that my granddaughter got lost," Sero said, his eyes red with fatigue. "Her father and mother got across, and so did I, but we don't know about her."

Ever since, the old man has lingered at the Yumurtalik border crossing a few kilometres from the city of Mursitpinar.

A little lost in this no man's land parched by a pitiless sun and covered in dust, the man repeats his story to anyone with any power, so far in vain.

"Here I am in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to eat or drink," he says. "The little girl needs medicine, and I don't even know where she is."

Suddenly Sero leaps into action for the umpteenth time.

A group of around 300 refugees has just entered an enclosure set up by AFAD, the Turkish government agency in charge of emergency situations, behind the blue police barrier.

Sleeping rough

It is the first batch of the day, mostly women, children and elderly people.

Their faces drawn but showing relief, they had spent the night a few metres (yards) away behind the barbed wire separating the two countries, at the mercy of the elements.

After frisking them for weapons, the Turkish authorities give them water and take down their names.

The refugees then board minibuses along with their bundles of possessions to be escorted to the next processing stage, set up at a converted playground.

The lucky ones will be assigned to a Turkish family that will take them in.

"We waited on the other side for three days. We were in a terrible situation," says Ahmed Rashade. "But we managed to get the children through," he said, clasping small blond children close to him.

"Their father is in Beirut. Their mother is already in Gaziantep [Turkey], so I had to bring them."

But not everyone is so lucky. Celal Hemze and his wife and children have been sleeping in the fields for several days ago and cannot take much more.

"We are living in terrible conditions," he grumbled. "The Turks aren't doing much for us. I called those in my family who are still in Kobane [the Kurdish name for Ain al-Arab] and told them to stay put. They are surely better off there than we are here."

AFAD local coordinator Fatih Ozer readily concedes that the situation is not easy.

"The massive influx can mean problems and risks. But since yesterday we have had a centre to register all the arrivals. We have taken in a million and a half Syrians in three years, so we have experience with this kind of situation and I hope the whole world will appreciate the scale of our humanitarian action."

Meanwhile Sero has not found Fatmah, who was not among the last refugees to get past the barbed wire of Yurmutalik. But her father, Hassan Sero, has not given up hope.

"Maybe she is waiting for us here in Turkey," he said.

Read more on:    isis  |  syria  |  turkey  |  syria conflict

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.