Syrians Refugees in Izmir, Turkey
Behind the counter of his hotel, Mehmet rents rooms to refugees who are trying to reach Greece by sea. The seaside city of Izmir, Turkey, has over 70,000 registered Syrians. To the point that one of its neighborhoods, Basmane, has become a small Syria. So since it opened two years ago, the Kervansaray was packed. The war in the neighboring country had already begun, Mehmet knew that the investment would pay for itself quickly. In its 32 rooms, 90% of beds are occupied by the Syrians.
“We win our bread with these people”, he agrees. He listens too, the attempts to dissuade when the weather is too bad. Sees the return sometimes when their boat overturned near enough to the coast. Like the one on which embarked Asma, the day before. On the night of Wednesday 23 to Thursday, Sept. 24, its most valuable asset he slipped arms: his son Zakaria, born two months ago in Daraa, Syria. Their pneumatic overturned 100 meters from the Turkish coast. Asma and Zakaria could reach the shore. Obviously, she was afraid. But it will try again. “No choice. “
I could not sleep for days after the photo of the little Aylan. We see everyday small like him “, sighs Mehmet by entering the ID number of a new customer. After two warnings this summer, he faces a fine of 400 pounds for having accepted the Syrians who were not officially registered with the authorities. But sometimes it takes two weeks to as their identification card is issued by Ankara and most of the migrants are leaving Turkey well before they get it. “So what do we do? “Sighs Mehmet, handing a key to Yousef Alhariri, 98824243964 number.
Behind him, two little girls are playing with an inflatable balloon. In another context, one could believe an innocent time, but not here. For these balloons are used by candidates passage are put away money and phones, if ever the boat turned.
Survival kit in Izmir
Whistle, mini flashlight, waterproof case for mobile phone, balloon, big roll of tape … In the shops in the neighborhood, nothing is easier than to concoct a safety kit before boarding. Without counting lifejackets, sold between 50 and 75 pounds Turkey (15 to 23 euros). Same amount for a child size. The business is profitable. A shoe salesman and tells that he sold to a thousand vests per day at the height of summer.
At the moment, the batteries are empty more slowly. Because land routes were opened? No. Rather, the passage through Edirne, on the border with Bulgaria, has closed. Since the Turkish authorities blocked their advance, some even turned back to Izmir to consider the last option: the passage by sea.
But the weather and the sea are capricious in recent days in Izmir, while Basmane has a little drained. Because the area is more a crossroads than a place of life. The Syrians arrive and often leave in a few days, depending on the number of attempts needed. They are therefore come at the last moment, to find the smuggler who takes them to Bodrum, Ayvalik, Kusadasi, Cesme … where they embark on Kos, Lesvos, Samos, Chios. Each Turkish city, the Greek island Siamese.
Dash it, leaving tonight without knowing where it will dock. A favorite island? Lesbos, without hesitation. “It seems that you can go faster the camp”, hopes the young woman who fled Damascus there is less than a week. For many, the refugee camps are not an option, even for a few days.
Hotels in the street, the windows are decorated with posters “wifi”. A commercial asset since many communicate with the smugglers by Whatsapp, an Internet messaging service. Moulham opens the application every thirty seconds. His house was bombed in Damascus. A month later, he’s sitting on the front steps of a hotel at 15 pounds a night (less than 5 euros), pending the message that will send to Cesme with what remains of his family . To get to it take a taxi or minibus passer. The instructions come in time: he is still only 16 hours, and departures are at night. How he found the ferryman number? For relatives who have already made ??the trip, says Moulham.
The no sea
Anyway, in Izmir, it is also easy to find a smuggler a lifejacket. They always end up discovering, as we sometimes see the strap a vest out of a garbage bag – the average for refugees not to be betrayed by a town orange neon so useful at sea. “When you meet a setter, you know, “says Moulham. And one is forced to admit, in front of a man who says he arrived a year ago and a half. His wife has already reached the Germany. When he join? It is as vague as his cologne is clear. Here, nobody passer. Yet impossible not to the cross, as taxi driver who spent a year in prison. Smuggler him? “Oh, you know …” He lent his phone to a client who called his smuggler. He took him to Cesme and was arrested. Now he pays attention. Has it ceased to bring refugees to the coast? He smiles. Of course not, the case is too profitable. Perhaps even more than the tourists.
A Basmane, daily Syrians is made ??of long waits. Before having enough money to get one promised by a relative, before the open borders or the smuggler gives the green light. The wait on the steps of the hotel; waiting on the steps of the mosque which is populated with mattresses; Pending the terraces, stormed by passing Syrians.
Came Aleppo Amar cooking his specialty. Falafel “But Syrian”. Do not confuse “The food they lack is why we open”, he explains dipping ten Proust’s madeleines its in frying. Turnover insured. For owners of the walls too, because few stalls away, a grocer specifies that it is a Turk who has opened and that he must pay rent. Without a work permit, no choice.
Abdulrahman also working illegally. Bazaar of fruits and vegetables, where he spent fifteen hours a day, he brings 30 pounds (about 10 euros) to the family installed near the Kadifekale castle. Above, another Syrian community is working to try to organize a semblance of life. Between sheepskins and satin dresses, no doubt: “It’s Bairam”, reports Abdulrahman. Or the festival of Eid largest Turkish. It is time for thirty to join his wife and baby girl born in Izmir, there are eleven months. But his sister, two brothers, his mother and his father, éborgné by shrapnel in Aleppo, “there is so long that”.
All are living in a house they rent well above market prices in Izmir, while the three brothers are paid well below. At this rate, save hard to achieve 1 000-1 300 dollars necessary for the transition by the sea. For even more settled than their “lucky” fellow from below, they did not feel like staying in Turkey. “Here is work, sleep”, sighs Mohafik Mohammed, the youngest. From its 21 years, he knows he amputated his future after leaving university. He would tell the life before, but his level of English stops him. “Before, I knew [speak English]. The war does everything to forget. “
Between starting in Germany or return to Syria, debate begins in the family. They eventually decide: they will return the day the regime will fall. “Have you ever seen Syria?, Asks Adbdulrahman. It was so beautiful before the war. “Why do not expect this in one of the 25 Turkish camps UN that should benefit the new European aid? Of the 2.2 million Syrian refugees registered in Turkey, only 260,000 live there. No way for the family to be adding eight. Because “too many people” because here “we can win what you eat”, because here “We can eat what we want”. And above all, adds Mohammed Mohafik, the smile sad lost hope, “because the regime will not fall. “