Under Threat of Arms: No Passage Into Turkey!

Under Threat of Arms: No Passage Into Turkey!
Investigations | 05 Nov 2015

Aleppo-native Ahmad lost his work in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, after he entered his car into Syria upon which he relied to make his living, to complete the required legal procedures.

The young man was unable to return, after the Turkish authorities closed the joint borders with Syria, in March.

It was just Ahmad's misfortune that he entered his car a mere two days prior to the closure of the border crossings. He now lives without workespecially that the overcrowding of the Turkish Syrian border towns, greatly reduces the job opportunities available for him.

Crossings Closed!

After Turkey announced the closure of border crossings on the 8th of March, 2015, people resorted to entering illegally, using informal crossings such as the road located in al-Wasel area near the twon of Kilis at the Turkish border; which has become a key conduit for dozens of families every day.

The road has, however, become semi-closed, after Turkish border guards were given absolute freedom to shoot at will in order to prevent the Syrians from crossing. This raised fears, especially after the killing of two young men and a woman, while trying to cross into Turkey.

Wael is one such Syrian unable to enter into Turkey, despite numerous attempts to reach the Kilis camp, wherein he lives with his family. To Wael's surprise, after some time had passed without being able to make that crossing, he was summarily dismissed from the camp due to being absent form more than the prescribed period.

Says Wael: "The borders were closed, and people were forced to resort to illegal ways to enter. I came under fire, but I survived."

Anger and Calls for a Solution

The killing of the young man, "Alaa Jolo," at the hands of the elements of Turkish Jandarma [police force], widely shared on social media; has angered activists and stoked their resentmentespecially as it is not the first such incident. This sparked a media campaign entitled "Jandarma kills Syrians," that stresses that such acts do not reflect Turkish officials' claims about Turkey being a state that sponsors Syrians displaced from their country.

Activists also called for appropriate solutions to allow Syrians safe entry into Turkish territory without being exposed to danger; particularly since Syrian refugees are now estimated at more than one and a half million, in Turkey.

Crossings Closed to Syrians Because of ISIS!

Once Daaesh [ISIS] took over the Jarabulus crossing, connecting the eastern Aleppo countryside to Turkey, Turkish authorities closed it fully, and ordered the removal of all devices and the closure of all offices normally responsible for managing the crossing.

As for Syrian's illegal entry into Turkish territory; this has become easier, as happened to young Abdul Latif who—after despairing of his many attempts to enter Turkey legally from opposition-controlled areas—made it to the city of al-Ra'ee north of the al-Bab region, actually controlled by ISIS, and was able to enter without trouble.

The young man explains: "There were many people with us, including ISIS members, and we were all able to make it out."

An Ongoing Suffering

The suffering of making the illegal trek is not limited to men and young people; what is faced by women and children is even more severe. Umm Shahed, a woman who lived in the Turkish city of Neizab tells Rozana: "I was unable to enter Turkey in order to return to my family and my children because of my health, which does not allow me to cross over illegally."

Umm Shahed adds: "I came to Syria to visit my parents, whom I had not seen for quite some time before. I did not know that the crossing would be closed, later. Now my children are in the city of Neizab, and I am in Aleppo. Things are very difficult."

Only on Holidays!

The Turkish government implemented a decision to open the border crossings with Syria to Syrians residing on Turkish territory, and who hold proper identifcation cards, on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr to visit the Syrian territory and return to Turkey, for a week without being subjected to forfeiting their cards, or the right of residence in Turkey.

The decision was addressed speficially to those Syrians in Turkey, and who hold ID cards but no passports, and wishing to visit their families in the Syrian interior.

On the other hand, many Syrians are questioning when this suffering will end. Entry to and exist from Turkey used to be a simple matter for the majority of families; yett after the imposition of more stringent controls on border crossings, Syrian have added yet another burden resulting from the tragedy of war in Syria.

The Turkish border crossings, nonetheless, still receive humanitarian emergency cases as well as relief trucks; in addition to the commercial crossings remaining opened. However, fears are increasing among Syriansespecially after recent events, which witnessed clashes between ISIS and the Turkish army along the border, and Turkey's shelling of the organization's positions.

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