Photo feature: Why Syrian refugees keep drowning off Turkey
Report: Yorgo Kırbaki - İpek İzci - Güliz Arslan - Serkan Ocak - Savaş Özbey Photos: Sebati Karakurt - Levent Kulu - Murat Şaka - Selçuk Şamiloğlu - Didar Karataş
Photos: Sebati Karakurt - Levent Kulu - Murat Şaka - Selçuk Şamiloğlu - Didar KarataşAylan’s wake-up call
The small body of refugee Aylan Kurdi found on a Turkish beach was a slap in the face of the civilization we have established. The whole world was left stunned. If this is the outcome, we must be doing something wrong. While a dirty sector is making money off this tragedy, there are things we as individual, global citizens can do aside from what governments can.
The EU’s ‘push back’
The problem stems from inequality in the world. The EU has adopted a “pushback” policy with bigger ships than before, along with weaponry. However, when police precautions are taken regarding immigrants, two problems emerge: The fee for the smugglers increases, which means the market expands and the number of deaths increases.
Turkey’s bloody economy
There is a dark side to this that is not being talked about; namely, that Turkey is gaining “dark revenue” from this. Turkey is like a funnel; one side is wide, with people from countries as diverse as Ghana, Chad and Afghanistan easily entering the country because this expands the economy. Because they are fugitives, they cannot spend normally like other tourists. They are shipped off to Greece for up to 10,000 euros per person. There is a bloody wheel creating a cruel economy.
Four main reasons for the increase in deaths
1) The situation in Syria is not improving and there is a loss of hope about any return.
2) The conditions for a permanent solution in their first country of refuge, Turkey, is bad.
3) There are a lack of precautions in accordance with the U.N. human rights understanding.
4) The EU is increasing its ‘pushback’ measures. The land borders have been sealed in Kırklareli and Edirne, meaning people’s only choice is the riskier sea crossing.
What can you do in Turkey?
1) The most organized foundation: UNHCR
Operating under the slogan, “Refugees are real people and they also have real needs,” the UNHCR is conducting one of the most wide-ranging aid efforts. For donations: TR34 0006 2000 1700 0001 2010 89
2) Aid at sea: Migrant Offshore Aid Station
MOAS was founded by a young couple in 2013 in Malta. The MOAS team delivers aid to refugees at sea with a ship. For donations: DE48200505501002211801
3) Donation or petitions: International Rescue Committee
The 80-year-old foundation is seeking financial aid and signatures for their campaigns. For donations: engage.rescue.org/donate/emergencies. For petition campaigns: change.org
4) You can volunteer: Support to Life Charity in Turkey
Has been conducting projects for Syrian crisis victims since 2012. For donations: bagis.hayatadestek.org. To volunteer: firstname.lastname@example.org
5) Nourishment and education aid: Hand in Hand for Syria
One of the rare foundations that operates within Syria, the foundation provides aid in the fields of medicine, nourishment, water and education. For donations: handinhandforsyria.org.uk/donate
6) Reaching 4,000 refugees: Relief International
The foundation has helped 4,000 refugees both inside and outside camps. For donations: ri.org/donate/donate-syria.php
7) You can sponsor a child: Save the Children
Through this foundation, you can support ensuring emergency aid reaches children and become the sponsor of a child. For donations: secure.savethechildren.org
8) For medical needs: International Medical Corps
The foundation conducts activities to attend the medical needs of Syrian refugees. For donations: internationalmedicalcorps.org/
9) For medical needs: International Medical Corps
The foundation conducts activities to attend to the medical needs of Syrian refugees. For donations: internationalmedicalcorps.org/
What can the world do?
1) EU politics has a huge impact on these deaths. A legal environment should be established for people in need of protection as it is essential to find a way that does not send people on a perilous sea journey.
2) The EU could shoulder greater responsibility. Like the United States, Canada, Russia, China and the Arab countries of the Gulf, the EU too is avoiding responsibility. The responsibility is left to the countries that border Syria. According to international law, it is a violation of human rights to turn down Syrians who need protection.
3) The “pushback” policy has been continuing for some time. The reason it has become more visible now is the increase in the volume of refugees – with 2 million of them in Turkey alone.
4) The EU needs to open up a safe passage for those who have fled from war.
Greek mayor: Athens and Ankara should take joint action
Lefteris Papakalodukas, the mayor of the Greek island of Symi off western Turkey, told daily Hürriyet that Athens and Ankara should take joint action to cope with the refugee influx.
Have you seen Aylan’s photograph?
I heard but could not look. My heart could not handle such a photograph.
How many refugees have come to Symi?
I do not know the exact number, but at least 200-300 people come every day. This number was around 10-15 last year. Those coming stay for a day or two then get transferred to Rhodes.
What would be the solution?
The EU and U.S. consulates in Turkey could give direct visas to at least Syrian citizens. This way we can prevent the [life-and-death situation] of these people who have fled from war, in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.
Winter is upon us…
If the same pace of the passage from the Turkish coasts to the Greek islands continues, a lot of refugees will lose their lives during winter. The real tragedies will appear in winter. I also want to add: Why does President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan not say to the EU or USA: “You were the ones bombing and starting a war and now you leave this burden on our shoulders”?
Has tourism been affected?
Both Turkey’s and Greece’s tourism has been significantly damaged and will continue to be so. We are losing our tourists to Spain. We must take action together with Turkey.
157,000 refugees in two months
According to a statement made by the maritime affairs minister of Greece’s provisional election government, Hristos Zois, on Sept. 3, 17,500 refugees entered the country in the first eight months of the previous year. This number passed 230,000 in the first eight months of 2015. There were 157,000 refugees in July and August alone. The number of refugees rescued by the Greek Coast Guard is 50,000.
Translated by Alkım Kutlu - The Hürriyet Daily News