Stranded in Turkey | Syrians wait for smugglers to take them to Europe, while others lose all money before reaching their destination
“We have been waiting in Turkey for a month and 20 days. Only a few steps separate me from reaching Europe. We have to just pass the border guards”. With these words, a Syrian young man known by his initials as A. M. described his suffering to SOHR activists.
A. M. is a Syrian civilian who has sold everything he owned in Syria and left the money with a friend living in Idlib province, fearing thefts that immigrants are subjected to, while they are attempting to smuggle themselves to Greece by sea, as they have to cross the Syria-Turkey and Turkey-Bulgaria borders first.
SOHR sources have reported that hundreds of Syrian civilians are stranded in Turkish cities near points in which smugglers help the Syrian people to cross into European countryside, waiting for the smugglers’ permission to sneak to these countries by land and sea or for visas to fly to east Europe.
In a testimony to SOHR, A. M. described the dire situation near the Turkey-Bulgaria border, as there is no one to help. The young man said, “Thank God. I was lucky not to bring all my money. I might have spent all of it or it might have been stolen. We never get tired of trying to cross the border strip. However, all of our attempts failed, although we paid the smugglers for these failed attempts. We waited for weeks to cross into Europe. During these weeks, hundreds of these Syrians have spent all money they saved for this trip, seeking a safe haven. Most of these people think of returning to Syria, while others think of staying and working in Turkey in order to remedy their losses.”
Another Syrian civilian known by his initials as S. H. who managed to cross from Turkey to Belarus has complained to SOHR and expressed his sorrow over the European Union’s stance regarding immigration from Belarus. The man said, “the situation of the Syrian immigrates in Belarus is disastrous. We suffer from cold and hunger. The suspension of flights from Turkey and authorities’ prevention to grant the Syrians visas to travel from Turkey to Belarus have forced the Syrian people to search for other ways to reach Belarus, then Poland. We used maps to guide us from Turkey to Belarus, and we have spent all money we saved until we got to Belarus.”
In this context, Polish rescue teams found a Syrian baby dead in a forest, as he had suffered from dehydration, while the baby’s parents were also found struggling with critical health conditions.
On October 21, SOHR sources reported that a Syrian refugee from Ain al-Arab (Kobani) died and three other Syrian people were injured during a chase by the Polish police. According to the sources, the car in which the four people sneaked from Belarus to Poland crashed into a truck, as the Syrians were attempting to escape from the Polish police.
A few days ago, Observatory sources reported that airlines in Turkey refused to grant visas to Belarus, which affected thousands of Syrian people who were awaiting to leave Turkey due to the high prices and ongoing freefall of the Turkish Lira.
We, at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, renew our appeals to all international actors, especially the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), not to abandon their responsibility and obligations to finding a lasting solution to the tragedy of the Syrians.