WMC Women Under Siege

Photos from a border life: Syrian refugees live in limbo in southern Turkey

I spent much of June in Turkey, ostensibly. But in the south, at the Syrian border, where Arabic is the language of choice, women wear traditional Syrian hijabs, and families live in the strange half-life of an open-ended nightmare of exile, I was, in some ways, in Syria.

The women I met on this journey spoke of profound poverty—an inability to feed their children, a lack of medical care, and constant pains and illness. They also spoke of witnessing extreme violence at home before fleeing—shabiha (plainclothes militia) forces stabbing neighbors, bombs falling on houses killing daughters and paralyzing their own bodies, and missing husbands, fathers, brothers, all disappeared in Syria’s never-ending war.

Here are a few photos I took in two particular locations at the border (click on the photos for captions). Some are in a refugee house in Reyhanli that contains 70 or 80 people in six concrete rooms. The rest are mostly of a makeshift tent city I visited in Kilis. When I say “makeshift,” I mean constructed of strings and other peoples’ refuse. The lives being lived there are pained, depressed, and deeply struggling. There is no United Nations or magic NGO coming to their rescue: These are actual lives spilling over the edge of misery. They are lives dwelling just beyond the fighting. The only thing that may be different for them now, in this half world, is that there are no bombs falling on their heads.

For more about my visit to Syrian refugee areas in Turkey, listen to this clip (starts at 4:57) from WMC Co-founder Robin Morgan’s radio show, “WMC Live” on CBS.

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Lauren Wolfe
Director, Women Under Siege
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