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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora