For Syrians, There Is No Such Thing as an Open Border


Kilis, Izmir – Turkey — “I am suffocating.” It’s the sentence I hear the most when interviewing Syrians.

Traveling throughout several Turkish cities in the past few weeks, it is now visibly clear that the noose is indeed tightening on Syrians in bordering countries. However, these new limitations may be driving more Syrians to head to Europe as Turkey becomes a more constricting environment.

Syrians carrying only the Temporary Protection ID (Kimlik) can no longer travel between Turkish provinces without a travel permit. Syrians trying to apply or renew their residency, which offers more freedom of mobility, are increasingly being turned back and told to apply for Kimlik instead. Even Syrians carrying valid residency cards are made to wait at airports for extra screening. Cars sold or rented to Syrians are marked with an “S” on their license plates, and are pulled aside at checkpoints and often forced to turn back.

“This is the worst it’s ever been,” said Mostafa Mahmood, a Syrian doctor with the Turkish registered Independent Doctors’ Association (IDA).

Photograph by Hiba Dlewati

Standing at the Oncupinar crossing in Kilis, the doctor had walked over from the Syrian side of the border to update journalists on the situation on the other side. The intensifying Russian and Syrian regime offensive on Aleppo in recent weeks has forced tens of thousands of peoples from their homes, leaving more than thirty thousand stranded at the Turkish border in dire conditions.

With not enough shelter, food, or medicine, and no bathrooms at all, fear is mounting that the border will stay closed. A line of TV cameras and journalists stand at the crossing, hoping to catch a glimpse of the humanitarian crisis mounting on the other side. Two lone ambulances rush back and forth, transporting only the most serious (and recent) injuries to Turkish —> Read More