News / Middle East

    Turkish Border Crackdown Imperils Syrian Refugees

    FILE - Syrian refugees arrive at the Oncupinar Turkey-Syria border gate near Kilis, Turkey, Sept. 28, 2014.
    FILE - Syrian refugees arrive at the Oncupinar Turkey-Syria border gate near Kilis, Turkey, Sept. 28, 2014.

    Turkish authorities have tightened controls, ending their open-door policy for Syrian refugees and making it more difficult for Syrians to enter Turkey and for international journalists to cover the war. There are even reports of people being fired upon as they approach the border.
    Lina Chawaf is the editor of the independent Syrian radio station “Rozana,” which broadcasts from studios In Paris and Gaziantep, Turkey.  She was a well-known TV personality in Damascus until she fled after siding with the political opposition against President Bashar al-Assad as violence flared in 2011.
    She has been returning to rebel-held areas of northern Syria when possible.
    “I feel I have to go there, I have to see with my eyes, it is the sense of a journalist, you know this you are a journalist. I feel I have to feel like the people who are there…to see the truth," said Chawaf.
    But trying to see what reporters call “ground truth” can be perilous.

    Bombings, jihadists

    Barrel-bombs are raining down on Aleppo, the battered northern Syrian city half-held by rebels. And there is the danger of journalists being kidnapped by jihadist groups.

    But there are also risks in just entering Syria and then trying to return to Turkey.

    Four Western reporters were deported last week after being caught trying to enter Turkey following reporting assignments inside Syria. The Turks closed border gates in March, claiming intensified fighting near the border had forced the move.

    Chawaf joined refugees recently trying to enter Turkey illegally.

    About 20 minutes by car from the border gate at Kilis more than 500 civilians were trying to use a cross-border tunnel 700 meters long, three meters deep and three meters across.

    “We went there and everybody knows that al-Nusra is controlling this area. They ask about what we are doing there and then they are trying to help us get just to the tunnel. And when we begin to walk to the tunnel, shooting was beginning over our head," Chawaf said.

    The shooting came from Turkish guards trying to deter refugees from reaching the tunnel. The refugees dashed to the tunnel.

    “There are children, families, small children. The children are crying. There is a small girl just beside me when I go down and she was crying," she said.

    Kurdish refugees

    About 160 kilometers east, Kurdish refugees who returned to the ruined city of Kobani, which endured a months-long siege by the Islamic State group, find that everyday life is hopeless, with no running water or electricity, bombed-out houses and little food. Unexploded ordnance is scattered around and bodies are buried in the rubble of collapsed houses, posing a health risk as summer approaches.

    Returning to the Turkish border area here is as equally hazardous as at the Kilis border gate.

    Mustafa, a father of seven, returned to Kobani illegally to see whether the family could move back. He realized they couldn’t and says the journey back to the Turkish border, again illegally, was harrowing involving going 10 kilometers east of Kobani, then a quick march over three kilometers of uneven ground in the dark before running 200 or 300 meters.

    If caught, refugees risk a beating and having  money taken from them by the Turkish border guards.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    May 11, 2015 1:46 PM
    Bashar al Assad is faced with more problems than he can cope with engendered by the face-off with the West. His dynasty is confronted with extinction due to the ongoing civil war in his country, it must confront squarely the regional acrimony to survive. From within, Assad is faced with an undefined number of opposition with a hydra-headed tapestry of demands ranging from religious, secular to political reasons. There is the regional angle anchored in Qatar, Turkey and fronted in Saudi Arabia awaiting the liquidation of Assad dynasty.

    There is the EU and USA unequivocally demanding regime change in Damascus. In all of this, survival cannot be guaranteed based on a waning support from Iran. Two cards remain to play if Assad must survive: Send a direct bombardment to hit Doha, Ankara and Riyadh to gain ISIS and sundry islamist terrorists support and count on UN mediation; Do the unusual - make peace with Israel, that way spite the Arab/islamic world and call the bluff of/scuttle Obama's ambitious regime change in Damascus building on the low rapport he has with Benjamin Netanyahu, thus successfully pulling the rug under his feet at the White House.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora