20 April 2016

The once sleepy town of Kilis on the Turkey-Syria border

Kilis, a once sleepy town on the Turkey-Syria border north of Aleppo, is the first arrival point for hundreds of thousands of people who have fled four years of war. Until now, it has welcomed them with open arms - winning admiration across the country and even a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. But for the first time it is seeing demonstrations against the overwhelming numbers of Syrians who live there - they now far outnumber the town’s original 90,000 Turkish inhabitants. Locals are angry that the war is starting to envelop them - another four rockets came over the border and hit the town yesterday, killing one person and bringing the number of civilian deaths this year to seven.

“I have no problem with the Syrians and no hard feelings,” said Aref Bushnakoglu, a shop-keeper. “They are refugees and they are not the cause of the problem, and if you want to allow them in you have to respect them.

“But enough is enough - we can’t take any more.”

Please also wtatch the following clip that provides the cover story of this past Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, writer Mac McClelland visited a camp for Syrian refugees in Kilis, Turkey, that is anything but typical. “Many of the world’s displaced live in conditions striking for their wretchedness, but what is startling about Kilis is how little it resembles the refugee camp of our imagination. It is orderly, incongruously so,” writes McClelland.