UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — To escape the battles in northwestern Syria, Abu Jaber decided to reside near the concrete wall that Turkey built at its borders. Fearing that the regime’s forces would advance further, he made a ladder that he and his family intend to climb to pass obstacles towards the other side.
The military escalation of the regime forces and its ally Russia in the Idlib governorate and its surroundings since the beginning of December has led to 900,000 people to be displaced, many of whom have gone to areas near the Turkish border as safer.
Near the town of Kafrisin, dozens of displaced families live in modest rooms that were built in a random camp, meters away from the concrete wall separating the Syrian and Turkish lands. Some are mounted on plastic water tanks or solar panels. The rooms, which were subsequently constructed with tents inhabited by new IDPs, became like a small village. Children play near the wall trying to climb it, and one of them wears a military uniform with the Turkish flag.
“We came to the safe place next to the Turkish wall,” said Abu Jaber, 45, who lives with his family consisting of his father, mother, wife and their eleven children in the informal settlement.
The family fled the northern countryside of Hama, adjacent to Idlib, six months before the progress of the regime forces in the area. As a result of the recent escalation in Idlib, Abu Jaber fears that he will have no choice but to cross the border in order to save the lives of his children, whom one of them, aged 10 years, lost his eye and was cut off by a previous bombing, before they were displaced from their village.
Wearing a traditional Arab costume, he explains, “In this bad stage (…) I decided to set up a ladder and in the event that the system progressed … I decided to cut the wall to save the lives of the children.”
He asked, “Where are we going? Either they exterminate people or we enter Turkey.”
– “I want to sleep” –
Abu Jaber realizes that crossing the border is a risky task with “snipers” and border guards preventing crossing into Turkish territory. “I don’t choose to go to Turkey,” he explains firmly. “I have more money than the world and all countries of the world, but I want safety. I want to sleep and I want shelter, heating and feeding children.”
Turkish border guards often shoot at anyone who tries to cross the wall to prevent the influx of refugees into its territory, which, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, has caused dozens of deaths since Turkey closed its border with Syria. Others pay very high payments to smugglers to help them cross the border.
Turkey, which hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees on its soil, is closing its borders tightly for fear of an influx of new refugee waves due to the escalation in northwestern Syria. In recent weeks, reinforcements have been sent to Idlib, where they have provided support to the fighting factions. It also publishes observation points in the region under a truce agreement with Russia, the most prominent supporter of Damascus.
Tens of thousands of displaced people have flocked to or near border areas on the progress of the regime forces since December. On Thursday, the head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, appealed to “neighboring countries (for Syria), including Turkey, to expand the reach of arrivals, so that those most at risk can reach safety.”
Human rights organizations and Syrian activists accused Turkey last year of deporting hundreds of refugees by force to Syria, which Ankara denied, speaking of a “voluntary” return.
– “Life there is more beautiful.”
The attack on Idlib has caused the largest wave of displacement in Syria since the conflict began in 2011. International organizations describe the province as a “huge camp” as it mainly houses three million people, nearly half of whom have been displaced who have fled over the past years wanting from other provinces.
Two weeks ago, Abd al-Razzaq Salat, 55, was displaced with his wife and eight children, including children, from the town of Bennash, near the city of Idlib, after being targeted by the bombing. They are currently staying with his wife’s sister’s family in a tent at the border wall.
“We are 19 people. We lived here in search of safety,” he told France Press.
The tent, in the center of which is surrounded by a fireplace, is filled with diesel, with its residents. During the day, they work to stock their needs of blankets and brushes in one of the corners, so that they can sit inside them.
And at night, Abdul Razzaq says, “We cannot sleep because of the space constraints. We sleep while we are sitting.”
Crossing the border is the only hope for this family in the difficult living conditions and the lack of financial means and assistance. “Look behind the wall, I look at life there, how beautiful it is and we are here in bad conditions,” he explains with a sigh, Abdul, asking, “Are we not human?”
He does not hesitate to assert that “if it is necessary, we will enter Turkey, we will push the wall and enter.”
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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