Syrian refugees in Turkish camps ask 'are we wild animals?'

'Post' correspondent gives first-hand account from Syria.

By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
September 29, 2013 06:47
1 minute read.
A Syrian boy sits beside his family's belongings after entering Turkey from Syria, Sept. 6, 2013.

Syrian child refugee in Turkey 370. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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JARABULUS, Syria – Cars, weighted down with vital supplies, make their way in the opposite direction of streams of refugees, who are desperate to escape the Syrian conflict.

This border crossing into the Turkish town of Karkamis – from the northern Syrian town of Jarabulus – has been a popular route for many.

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The brutal infighting among Syrian rebel groups has unfolded at an astonishing pace over the past few months. The effects are palpable at the border crossing.

Syrian men rushed a severely wounded fighter into Karkamis. The man, on a gurney, was unconscious and his face barely identifiable.

It is unclear if he survived his injuries.

Jarabulus was the site of combat in June between the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham – known as ISIS within Syria – and the pro-Western Free Syrian Army. ISIS is believed to control Jarabulus, but there are Kurdish rebels in the town.

The Jerusalem Post interviewed dozens of Syrian refugees at the Kilis refugee camp in Turkey, at another border crossing roughly a 90-minute drive from Jarabulus.

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“All of the international community is working against us. Are we all wild animals?” asked a middle-aged Syrian man.

More than 200 Syrians, most of them families with young children, live in a trash-infested lot across from the refugee camp. Their names cannot be disclosed because of fear of retribution against family members still in Syria.

Converted shipping containers, enough to hold up to 12,000 refugees, provide crammed living quarters.

The real number of refugees in the camp, which is run by the Turkish government and the UN high commissioner for refugees, is thought to be between 15,000 and 17,000.

The Turkish authorities are slated to open a second camp in Kilis to provide shelter to refugees living outside the existing one. The newly arrived refugees, who arrived between six weeks and 10 days ago, have endured a grueling existence outside the camp. One asked that a “message be sent to the Turkish government to find a way to help us.”

Benjamin Weinthal reports on European affairs for The Jerusalem Post and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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