Camp closed: desperation on the Syrian border

Ejected from camp.jpg

Mohammed is leaning on his crutches at the fence of the clinic. “Can you help me? Please, please can you help me?”

We go back with him to his tent. It is in a transit camp for Syrian refugees on the Turkish/Syrian border. And the refugees – about 3000 of them – have just been told they are being moved to another camp, an official, permanent camp, some 80 km distant. Tomorrow morning, at 10.00 am. So they must pack their bags and get ready.

The problem is, this camp is populated by refugees from a different ethnic group, with a completely different language and customs. And with the recently exacerbated enmity, a consequence of the ongoing conflict in Syria , most people are refusing to go. They fear for their safety there, despite the two separate, protected areas in the camp that have been established.

“We have only just arrived,” Mohammed tells us despairingly when he is back in his tent. He is there with his wife and three young children. “It was too dangerous for us to stay in our home town in Syria. And it was a long journey and took all my money – over $2500 – to get here. ISIS had just beheaded my father. I saw his head hanging there, in the square. My father’s head. He was a respected Imam and he refused to follow the edicts of ISIS…… so they beheaded him.

“We came here to be safe, for stability and security for our children. And now we have to move again! We cannot go to that camp, it’s too dangerous for people from where I come from.”

We hear the same story over and over, of people too scared to go to the camp. And they have taken so long to reach some safety here, so many displacements already. A woman sits on the steps of the clinic, her head in her hands, weeping. “What can I do, what can I do? I have eleven children to take care of, my husband was killed by a bomb in Syria. I’ve been taking food from the rubbish bins to get enough to eat….”

I have met one of her children at the ante-natal programme we’ve just started, a young woman nine months pregnant. I remember there are ten women in their ninth month, due to give birth soon. Not the time to be moving to a new camp. Nor to be sleeping on the streets.

“We will sleep on the streets,” is what we heard many times. People preferred to sleep on the streets – or even to try to return to Syria – to moving to the new camp.

Dark grey clouds are looming over the rows of tents and rain threatens as evening approaches. The feeling of desperation is palpable; our feeling of helplessness is equally overwhelming. Powerless to prevent the move, as we watch people piling whatever tiny number of possessions they have into plastic sacks, we do whatever small things we can to help them.   I ask our team of outreach workers to track down the malnourished babies we were supporting with baby formula; and we ladle milk powder into countless small pots to tide them over for a few days.

And we go from tent to tent, asking the refugees where they plan to move to, taking people’s contact numbers so that we can follow them up and maybe distribute some non-food items to them: tents, blankets, mattresses.

Such a small contribution in a maelstrom of wretchedness.

The next morning a wave of human misery enfolds the perimeter fence of the camp. A young woman, tears rolling down her face and two small children clutching onto her, waits beside her pathetic pile of belongings. Others are loading potato sacks of stuff onto carts. A tiny proportion of the refugees – maybe a couple of hundred – have decided to move to the new camp.

And the rest – where will they sleep tonight?

These are the people we in Europe have closed our doors to.



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75 Responses to Camp closed: desperation on the Syrian border

  1. shadiazaman2015 says:

    The feelings are very raw. I hope things get better. Insha’Allah =)

  2. Justin Helm says:

    It’s terrible that’s the reality for millions+ children just because some deranged people think they might be terrorists or potential terrorists. It started with Israel and the US joined in 2006 when the ‘war on terror’ began, now this epidemic of systematic terrorism by the Zionist countries is affecting mostly the civilians of the specific land really out of racism, for ex., in gulf war it was to kill ‘wetbacks’ almost as a game, not just disarm of WMDs. Or the carpet bombing of Yemen where now over 10 million children desperately need food and medical attention, and the whole land in semi-famine. Or the situation in al-Yarmouk refugee camp, etc. The list is virtually endless because of corporate greed.

    • As a humanitarian organisation, we try to provide assistance in all countries where there is need, due to conflict or natural disasters, regardless of political agendas

  3. Jash Dholani says:

    Loved it till the last line. Just because a non-prosperous part of the world exists doesn’t mean that the prosperous part has the obligation to absorb its denizens beyond capacity. And Europe HASN’T closed its doors – over a million were accepted into Germany in a single year alone, so where are you coming from?

    Furthermore, people coming to Europe aren’t necessarily families escaping the maelstrom of wretchedness, but also, in large quantities, young men looking for jobs and welfare benefits. There’s a LOT of merit in the conservative argument of having tighter borders.

    • I can only talk about the people I have met. And they are families who have suffered dreadfully, are escaping a vicious war in search of safety. The majority wish only to return to their homeland once it is safe – in the case of this blog, Syria. Yes, Germany has been amazing. But now, with the latest EU/Turkey deal, Europe has more or less “closed its doors” and people are stuck in the middle, between an unsafe homeland and a highly restricted Europe.

    • Europe hasn’t closed it doors but it doesn’t want situations like before when desparate, angry people with thousands of little children walked from Greece to Macedonia and from there to Austria, Germany and The Netherlands. They refused to go to other countries and that gave us the idea that they didn’t come for safety but for money because these 3 countries are the richest of the EU. There were so many that the countries had to improvise but then the problems started because they demanded better housing and started to demonstrate. There was no better housing at that moment and instead of just waiting they started to fight and lute and we only saw people from all over the world demanding special food, special treatment, special healthcare, special places to pray etcetera. Locals weren’t happy with the situation and hotheads started to yell “go back to Syria” but now, after 6 months, we all are used to the new situation. We gave shelter to about 50.000 Syrians and Eritreans and the government thinks that the same amount will arrive later this year. The former Western part of Europe has it doors still open but only for Syrians, Iraki’s and Eritreans. The deal with Turkey is collapsing as far as I know so problems are piling up. The former Eastern European countries are xenofobic and made it almost impossible for refegees to cross their borders. So anyone who says that Europe doesn’t help at all is poorly informed but it is still a huge problem.

      • I think when Europe realises the situation people are fleeing from, in these 3 countries – Syria, Iraq and Eritrea – they should realise that we have a humanitarian responsibility to help. The deal between Europe and Turkey hasn’t really helped the humanitarian situation as far as Syria is concerned, as these people are now trapped, between their own country at war, where they are in risk of their lives, and a closed border between Turkey and Syria. And Turkey already is hosting 2.7 million and cannot accommodate them all – and has a closed border

  4. amr63 says:

    I can only cry….

  5. “The problem is, this camp is populated by refugees from a different ethnic group, with a completely different language and customs.”

    What different language and ethnic group populates the camp they are going to?

  6. deklinblog says:

    Sorrows dear friends

  7. There is the world on the other side complaining about silly things and here is a life in Syria unimaginable. Media does not show much detail news about it so I often look for such articles to stay updated. Tears roll down to read such things,one can never understand how worst these people are going through in real.For many years ,millions of innocents have lost their lives or loved ones ,have been forced to trade their family members and surviving without food. Hope the justice shows its path very soon. Wish this big world would come together and save their lives. Some things don’t really happen.Yes,Europe had opened doors and have given place to many so don’t know what to say on their closing doors decision. Wish other countries also start accepting them .Of course lots of formalities,paper works,visa come into existence.Wish humanity was the first thing.Take care .Stay Strong. Thank you for sharing .

  8. And we pride ourselves on being a rational, intelligent species? I have no words to express my guilt, my sorrow.

  9. Pingback: Camp closed: desperation on the Syrian border – Through the Looking Glass

  10. This is so sad. Thanks for sharing this with us, the message needs to be told.

  11. Pingback: Refugees | Le journal d'une makroutgirl

  12. Really thought provoking. “ISIS had just beheaded my Father” is a reality that we in the West are so excluded from at times. Articles like this reinforce just how horrific and barbaric the events in Syria are.

  13. Juli says:

    A world full of enemies. A world full of hate, greed, power and most of all different beliefs is torturing this world and men are suffering for what we think “my belief is better than yours”. When is this world going to come to its senses? Life is to live, life is to be happy, life is to realise our dreams and make the journey fruitful. The more we keep religion and beliefs into our boundaries, we are going to suffer. Believing in yourself is the soul purpose of moving into a freedom world of your own. I know it, because I did it many years ago. Syria story is very sad, very, very out of character. May peace finds them and cure the innocent. My heart goes out to them and hope nature will bless them to get up again, walk and find destiny towards happiness.

  14. Thank you for the work you do to try and help these poor people as they go through such horrible things all around them. I really wish there was more light on this sort of subject. It seems like the only time anyone remembers that people are dying from all of this war, is when Westernized cities are hit. No one seems to remember and pray for countries like Syria, who are living this every day.

  15. anneharrison says:

    Simply heart-breaking. I am ashamed at the way the Australian government treats refugees. Such stories help people see the human side of the suffering, not the rhetoric and jingoism of politics.

  16. daramemon says:

    Every drop is imp to the ocean, keep the stalwart in you alive people who crush people for their ill and evil will soon yet surely meet their end , you watch and see the wrath of good.

  17. brianfergusonwpg says:

    Reblogged this on Winnipeg WordPress Wonders.

  18. brianfergusonwpg says:

    heart-wrenching.. and I know people over here who will only respond with cynicism

  19. This is sad . But who are responsible for their pathetic conditions? 11 children …seriously? Is not it the time for some releigions to think logically and adopt the change.Of course they are in pathetic condition right now and people like you in other countries of other releigion are helping them but imagine a vice versa situation…..For some releigion is much more important then human life and human sufferings.

    • There are cultural issues here, not just religious. And the current situation is that there is a suddenly homeless woman with 11 children who needs help. So as humanitarians, we help her

      • I completely agree with u. You people are doing a good job. But whole world is suffering because of cultural and religious issues right now. Some people need to learn some hard lessons

  20. mywrite2016 says:

    It takes a special type of person to do a job like that. As a nurse in a country that has not seen war in a hundred years, it is hard for me to imagine the magnitude of its effects. Your blog provide a tiny peek. Continue your selfless efforts.

  21. “…a maelstrom of wretchedness…” that was the sentence that, for me, so succintly summed up the place you wrote about. Very moving and powerful writing about an awful situation.

  22. lm says:

    It’s very terrible to see and hear of these incidences like this in certain parts of the world (and who knows may be close at home too). It’s human life at stake, and everyone is affected by these tragedies, and war-torn countries and innocent victims have occurred since beginning of mankind can remember. Evil people making wrong choices affecting the rest of the others. It’s best for us to help each other where we can, whether in prayer or deed. At the same time to keep hope and faith alive and stronger for the sake of generations to come- our children and so forth. We all need to turn to Him who is mighty to save us all, despite these circumstances. Thank you to all the nurses, doctors, and other humanitarians out there!

  23. Pingback: Camp closed: desperation on the Syrian border | Postcard from a Pigeon

  24. imartsyblog says:

    Great article! Keep up the good work!

  25. Clint Walker says:

    In a 100 years time we will look back at potentially what is the biggest humanitarian challenge since the last world war and shake our heads.

    We are responsible for these people whether we are close by or not. There is more that we could be doing if we could only move away from the useless drive to maintain patriotism and the lunacy of politics.

    We need to look after people. Its our only responsibility on earth. We are failing.

  26. thesmilingpilgrim says:

    Pictures like that are just heart breaking.

    There was a local Orthodox church that made contact with me at my job and I ended up bringing in 6 or so bunkbeds and a ton of mattresses and pillows and such and getting a wicked good discount on an already sale set to help out on the refuge crisis in our country here.

    Hopefully we can continue to help on this situation but also help countries not have to face this kind of destabilization and cycles of hate, war, and division.

    It’s frightening stuff to see and I think affects us all in seeing ourselves possibily in such camps.

  27. tinkerlatina says:

    It is just really sad how america is turning to a bad path, how the government chooses to handle these situations .

  28. jilldennison says:

    How heartbreaking! It makes me even more ashamed to know that many in my country, the U.S., are also unwilling to open their doors and hearts to the refugees. Do you mind if I re-blog this post?

    • No, I don’t mind at all. The more it can be shared, the more people know what the reality of war is for individuals, for the Mohammeds and Aminas and Fatmas, (and what the organisation I work for, Medecins sans Frontieres, is doing), the better!

  29. Pingback: Camp closed: desperation on the Syrian border — Ali In The Field – Ann

  30. jilldennison says:

    Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    I am re-blogging this, with permission from Ali, the original author. Ali works with ‘Medicins sans Frontieres’ in refugee camps. This is but one heartbreaking story from the camps, but one that I think is important. The message, at least to me, is clear: we must all step up and do what we can to help humanity. PLEASE take a few moments to read this post.

  31. sonu2511 says:

    Oh God please show mercy, please clear our minds of hatred so all this stops.

  32. anxiouseating says:

    This makes me sick to my stomach. I can’t imagine what these people are going through. We need to always remember how blessed we are. Please follow! ☺️

  33. geetanjali says:

    We all keep our eyes shut, until tragedy strikes our own homes!

    We need to contribute in our own small ways. No matter how little it is.

  34. desibi says:

    Absolutely thought provoking post.

  35. Big thing….well done.boss…thnx fr sharing

  36. Pingback: Grace is Always

  37. Studying a degree in geography Syria is such an interesting case study and the situation they have been forced in has served detriment to the entire planet, that which this article highlights without flawed evidence or overly bias subjective views. Great work

  38. Jyoti says:

    I think the focus is misplaced. The real question is why are there so many refuges in the first place? Why don’t they unite and stand against ISIS, why isn’t Saudi opposing ISIS? How much can other countries give to them, and aren’t they giving their best? It is not a right, refuge has to be requested and the host has a genuine right to assess how much he can take.

    • Why are there so many refugees? Because their homes are being bombed, they and their families are threatened by Isis, everyone I met had lost family members to bombs, snipers, beheadings. Would you stay in that kind of situation? Wouldn’t you want to try and get your children to safety? They are not soldiers, they are civilians .

  39. Heartbreaking reality! Thank you for making us aware of how truly tragic the situation is and for the humanitarian work you and your colleagues do! Unfortunately, many of us waste our time following the fake lives of celebrities for the fantasy, glamour and glitter for which media coverage has plenty of resources to provide ongoing headlines. You are all the anonymous true heroes and heroines of our world!

  40. So heartbreaking! I just read a book called The Lightless Sky about a 12 year old from Afghanistan who made the long journey to the UK- really inspiring, check out my post and blog if you get a chance 🙂

    • You are so right with what you say in your blog – it’s encouraging to hear your views of empathy & understanding with the migrants. They leave their country because they have no choice. I will get the book about the afghan refugee – thank u for sharing that

  41. aminfatma says:

    I agree ’bout this . Ur article is incredible . Simply great . Thanks to this one . U are a great blogger . I look forward to more of u . Thanks for inspiring me each day .

  42. raylahbacon21 says:

    I wish that people could see that problems happening in other countries are our problems too. It’s everybody’s problem. We all share this one planet. While I may never even hear the names of anyone in another country I must know that they exist and they are important. I don’t mean to enter my “hippy- love everybody” speech but God dammit! These people matter!!! I understand that no one can take on the responsibility for every person on the planet but I think everyone is capable of looking beyond themselves

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