Syrians stay in ex-prison building in Turkish border town
Gülden Aydın ŞANLIURFA
A total of 17 Syrian families, 90 people all together, are living in the Akçakale prison building, which was abandoned six years ago. AA PhotoDozens of Syrians are living in a building that used to be a prison in the border town of Akçakale, a district of Turkey’s southeastern province of Şanlıurfa.
A total of 17 Syrian families, 90 people all together, are living in the Akçakale prison building, which was abandoned six years ago. They use the baths as a kitchen and share the wards as rooms for each family. The new prison building’s residents fled from the city of Rakka on the other side of the border. They were told by the local administrator’s officials they have to leave the building because it will be demolished, but they have no other place to go.
Cemal İbrahim, 30, was among the 27 people who fled from Syria eight months ago. Fatma İsmail’s husband was still in Syria and she does not know if he is alive. “I am here with my six children. There are 11 children here; they are all malnourished. We don’t even have milk to give them. We want to go to the camps, at least we will be fed there,” said İsmail, crying for the uncertain fate of her husband.
Fatma, 19, is holding her baby in her hands, crying and telling her story in Arabic.
Her one-month-old daughter, Sidra, was born with a harelip and has to have an operation. “She cannot breastfeed and cries all night,” Fatma said.
“The hospital told us she has to be operated on in Şanlıurfa immediately, otherwise she will die. Her father is working as porter, but we don’t even have enough money to go to Şanlıurfa,” she said.
Ali Muhammad, 24, another Syrian who stays in the Akçakale prison building, came to Turkey one year ago with his family. His sister Hene is seven months’ pregnant. “We rented a house when we had money. We came here after we ran out of money. Philanthropists bring food for us,” said Muhammad.
A little girl brings portulaca and a cucumber in her hand that she took from a shop’s garbage bin. Her mother sends her son to the mosque where he begs and buys bread with that money for their dinner.
The locals of Akçakale, on the other hand, complain about the problems caused by the presence of Syrian refugees in the town. They want the Syrians to remain in the camps and not be allowed to leave.
Translator Halil Yıldırım said the locals could hardly find jobs in the town because the Syrians accept any job for half of the wage.