AsiaStoryFleeing for life: Syrian refugees in istanbul by Turjoy Chowdhury

Since the outset of the conflict in March 2011, increasing number of refugees from Syrian Arab Republic has sought asylum in Turkey. Escalation of violations in Syria in 2012 and onwards created dramatic increases in humanitarian needs.
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Turjoy Chowdhury – Since the outset of the conflict in March 2011, increasing number of refugees from Syrian Arab Republic has sought asylum in Turkey. Escalation of violations in Syria in 2012 and onwards created dramatic increases in humanitarian needs.

From the outset of the conflict, the Republic of Turkey followed an open door policy to refugees. According to a survey of AFAD during June-July 2013, there were a total of 200,386 Syrian refugees in 20 camps and it was believed that there were a total of 350,000 Syrian refugees outside of the camps in various cities of Turkey.

That means almost 36% of the refugees were inside the camps and 64% outside. On 1 June 2014, the UN refugee agency put the number of Syrians in Turkey at 765,000 that represents 27% of the Syrian refugees in the region. About 49 % of the population is females and 51% males, while 185 of the overall population are children under five. Turkish deputy prime minister has said that the number of Syrians in neighboring Turkey has surpassed 1 million. More than 700,000 Syrian refugees – 70% of Turkey’s total Syrian refugee population – live outside of camps. A growing number of them are likely to swell the already growing numbers of Syrians in practically all the major cities of Turkey led of course by Istanbul. The number of Syrian refugees is increasing rapidly and right now in Istanbul the number is approximately more than 200,000.

This is the story of some of those Syrian refugees who have been successfully fled from Syria and saved their life from the bloody and brutal violence because of the uprising against Bashar al- Assad, which basically began more than three years ago and struggling outside of the camps in Istanbul right now.

About Turjoy Chowdhury

I am Turjoy Chowdhury, a student of Architecture and a practicing freelance documentary photographer and photojournalist. I mainly like to do photo-stories. I believe Documentary Photography has the power to express a lot of things rather than words and I want to practice photojournalism/Documentary photography not only as a profession, but as a social service as well. Though it’s not possible to change a whole society through photography alone, at least I want to make some contribution to it with my photography.
I am seriously in the field of photography since 2011. My works got published in The Guardian, BBC, WNN, Zone Zero, Aksgar magazine, Foto Evidience, Fotovisura, ND Magazine, Private Magazine, Dodho Magazine, CFYE, Fotoritim, Fstop magazine, JPGmag, Redbird Edition, 1x etc. I have become featured photographer by Aksgar at Delhi Photo Festival, 2013. I won awards in Carnegie Council’s International Student Photo Contest, Photophilontophy activist awards
(grand prize). [Official Website]
Fleeing for Life

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 Turjoy Chowdhury,

 Caption

1. More than 200,000 Syrian refugees are living in different places of Istanbul and the number is increasing rapidly.

2. Abdullah – al – Gajim is now living in a small old house with his family in Fatih, Istanbul. He was a carrier car driver in Aleppo. One year before his car was destroyed by bombing and his wife was pregnant when they were facing the extreme violence of war, as a consequence they lost the baby. The full family fled from Aleppo and after crossing the border, they reached at a camp in Gaziantep. After staying there for few days, when they found the situation in the camp not suitable for them, they travelled a long way to Istanbul. After reaching at Istanbul, he had no work for two months. Currently he is working as a worker in a belt shop. His youngest son Mustafa (1.5) is now admitted in a hospital. His head size is expanding day by day because of the chemical reaction during war. At present, the rent of the house is 500 (TL) lira and he hardly earns 700 (TL) lira per month. So It is very hard for Gajim to bear all the expenses of his family.

3. Many Syrian refugees can be seen in the old cities of Istanbul (especially in Fatih) seating beside the streets in front of old buildings. Since most of these places are abandoned and the buildings are evacuated, it has become a safer shelter for them. Though the living condition is very poor there they feel a little safe and relaxed out of the main Turkish locality.

4. Many Syrian refugees can be seen in the old cities of Istanbul (especially in Fatih) seating beside the streets in front of old buildings. Since most of these places are abandoned and the buildings are evacuated, it has become a safer shelter for them. Though the living condition is very poor there they feel a little safe and relaxed out of the main Turkish locality.

5. Gradually almost all the streets of Istanbul are being full of beggars (Syrian refugees). But they are mostly visible in Sultanahmet and Taksim as these areas are expensive and various kinds of tourists, visitors are available there. The turkish people are very uncomfortable because of there presence since it is harming the touristic environment day by day and the number of street beggars are increasing.

6. Hasan was brutally tortured in Syria. After loosing all the properties, they came to Istanbul just three months ago (May, 2014). Right now he got temporary shelter in a small restaurant. Still he is searching for job and proper accommodation. But he will love to move to somewhere else because he found the Turkish local peoples behavior not very welcoming for them.

7. A small cafe in Küçük Pazar, which is full of the Syrian crowd almost all the time. Mostly the young people spend their time here by smoking, gossiping, playing cards. Interestingly, most of them manage money for playing poker and gambling by sending their youngers to beg on the streets. But the cafe authority is very much annoyed by this situation because according to them the crowd becomes intolerable as they make so many noises, sometimes fight with each other for money and most importantly this situation harms their business.

8. Kids buy snacks from local departmental stores with the money, what they get by begging. They hardly get one standard meal once in a day. Sometimes they chase or fight with each other for foods or toys. It has become also very difficult for their parents to take proper care in this kind of uncertain situation.

9. Cyber cafes have become a good source of entertainment for the Syrian kids. Internet is very costly in Syria but in Istanbul they can use internet by only 1 (TL) lira for half an hour. The kids easily manage this money by begging for their daily entertainment. In the Cyber cafes, they play games, watch music videos, movies etc. The age group is more astonishing because it starts from three. A three years old boy came to watch a TV series named “Şefkat tepe” on youtube. When he sees war, heavy gun fighting and bombing; probably he can relate that to his reality in Syria.

10. Hasan is from Aleppo. He lost his father while fleeing from Syria. He got the scar on his face during that time. Now he is staying in a park of Fatih with his mother and two younger sisters. All of them beg in front of the mosques, as they have no other choice.

11. A small kid is playing “war-war” with toy gun on the streets. All the conflicts or war have the worst impact mostly on the children. The violence affects children’s sensitive mind very much.

12. A free Syrian school named “Seraj” run by some Syrian youth. This school is only six months old. They faced many problems to establish this school. Most of the kids of this school have witnessed the horror of war in Syria. The teachers and kids were preparing for their festival where the kids will perform a special drama in which they will show how they had been tortured under the regime and how the war had destroyed the education. But they will overcome that situation and there will be victory.

13. A free Syrian school named “Seraj” run by some Syrian youth. This school is only six months old. They faced many problems to establish this school. Most of the kids of this school have witnessed the horror of war in Syria. The teachers and kids were preparing for their festival where the kids will perform a special drama in which they will show how they had been tortured under the regime and how the war had destroyed the education. But they will overcome that situation and there will be victory.

14. There are several charities and organizations in different places of Istanbul, who are meant to help the Syrian refugees in their critical condition. Syrian Nour is a charity like that, where the Syrian refugees can get many kind of facilities most importantly Medical. They get free medical check up, medicine etc. But day-by-day the number of refugees is increasing so rapidly that it is becoming very tough to give proper support to all of them, the authority informed. Each and every day almost 500 people come to them and now this is going out of control.

15. Steve is playing basketball with his younger brother. He was a National Basketball player with a record of 52 points in one single game in school championship in Holms. He completed his education from Syrian military school and he was active in military service for several years. Steve was sent to jail for more than ten times as he always stood against injustice. After the biggest protest in April, 2012 in Holms he was fully involved in protest against regime supporting the revolution. Then he started his activism through organizing protests, making new plan, recording injustice with cellphone and sharing through social media, giving speeches etc. He got arrested for 40 days by the military and they stopped giving him and his family all the military facilities and services. Moreover he was bound to quite Syrian League. Right now he is staying in Istanbul without any job but his protest is still going on.

16. Three Syrian musicians are performing on the street. Fadel (center) is a Darbuka performer and he did his graduation in music production & sound engineering. He does his protest through music on radio. He is the founder of a radio program called “ Yasmin Shaam”. In this program he telecasts music, speeches about justice, equality and freedom. When he was doing his activism in Syria, he got arrested for three times. To save his life he migrated to Istanbul but still he is continuing his protest.

17. Ali is a young protester who is dealing all most of the serious political protest and movements against the regime staying in Istanbul. Several times he went to jail and faced brutal torture. He didn’t want to leave his homeland but at the end he had no other option. Ali strongly believes in freedom for future and always stands against the regime no matter what he has to face. He got a new girlfriend from Australia and he loves to spend time with her though he knows that the future is very uncertain.

18. Mansour-al-Atassi is one of the prominent leaders of the Syrian communist party, which is the major political opposition of Bashar-al-Assad. Like the other Syrian refugees, he was also bound to leave Syria and now he took shelter in Istanbul. A secret meeting is going on at his house regarding the next steps and strategy.

19. A protest is going on against the election of Syria organized by the protesters and activists who are living in Istanbul.

20. A protest is going on against the election of Syria organized by the protesters and activists who are living in Istanbul.

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