Tales from Kobani

Women and children receiving donated food by the Turkish government    

The battle to save Kobani is going on a little over a month. At first many had doubts it would survive the much stronger and brutal ISIS force. The Syrian Kurdish determination to defend the town and with the help from the US-led coalition forces it appears Kobani will survive. But the lives of thousands of Syrian Kurds refugees have changed.

It’s noon. In a mosque in the district of Suruc, on the Turkish-Syrian border women and children from Kobani line up to receive food distributed by the Turkish Red Crescent.

Seihildan - waiting for her daily food ration   

That’s where I met Seihildan, a 21 years old mother of two. She fled Kobani 21 days ago when ISIS first launched a major offensive on the majority Kurdish town, forcing over 200,000 Kurds across the border into Turkey. She spent a couple of weeks in Mursitpinar – the boarder crossing’s town with her son and a few family members. As they relocated to Suruc they were forced to sleep on the streets since Turkish authorities were not prepared for the rapid influx of people. Finally they found shelter in a mosque.

In front of her was Idile with her son who has never met his father who is in Syria fighting against Assad’s regime. She starts to cry saying, “the situation is very bad. We are getting food once a day and just enough to get by”. She continues, “Turkish people are mad we are here. What my son has done to deserve it?”  Like many if wasn’t for her son, Idile would be in Kobani and in her house.

If wasn’t for him she had stay in Kobani, Syria   
Young Syrian Kurd outside the mosque with pots and pans to collect daily food ration    

Syrian Kurds in line to receive food outside a mosque in Suruc, Turkey

My next visit was to an empty school complex turned into a shelter of 5,400 people living here in the past month.  The situation here is a little better since the class- rooms where given to individual families, where they have access to three meals a day, medical care and children can play in the playground.  As the number of refugees increase big tents were brought in and to share among eight families.

Hanging out in the school

It was here where I met Buretti – a volunteer Kurdish medical intern. He has been here for a couple of weeks and has no plans to return to Istanbul were he was finishing his studies. He is attending to almost 300 patients a day; mostly kids with infections from lack of hygiene and chronic cough. The winter is coming and he is hoping that by than the situation will have been resolved and everybody can go back home.

Left behind all her belongs and crossed the boarder with her daughter and two grandchildren

Hussei – wants to go back and fight to save Kobani

Outside, sitting with others was Hussein. He wanted to talk. He had just arrived with his family two days ago.  They left behind all their belongs. As with many others he wants to go back to Kobani and help in the fight against ISIS, but the border is closed for now.

The majority of refugees are children