The magazine of the art-form of the photo-essay
July 2016 back issue
Fleeing for Life: Syrian Refugees in Istanbul
by Turjoy Chowdhury
A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous! Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
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Since the start of the Syrian Civil War in March 2011, an increasing number of refugees have sought asylum in Turkey. The escalation of violations in 2012 further increased the need for humanitarian aid. From the outset of the conflict, the Republic of Turkey followed an open door policy to refugees. According to a survey that was held in June-July 2013, there were over 200,000 Syrian refugees in camps in Turkey. Beyond that, it was estimated that there were a total of 350,000 Syrian refugees outside of the camps in various cities across the country. On June 1, 2014, the UN refugee agency put the number of Syrians in Turkey at 765,000. Over 185,000 of the overall population are children under five. The Turkish deputy prime minister has said that the number of Syrians in neighboring Turkey has surpassed 1 million. More than 700,000 of them live outside of camps. The number seems likely to increase as the Syrian conflict drags on. This is the story of some of those Syrian refugees who have successfully fled Syria from the bloody and brutal violence and are now struggling outside of the camps in Istanbul.
A Syrian kid playing with a paper wheel on which the Turkish flag is printed. May 20th, 2014. Istanbul, Turkey.
Abdullah-al-Gajim is now living in a small old house with his family in Fatih, Istanbul. He was a carrier car driver in Aleppo. Bombing destroyed his car and his wife was pregnant when they were facing the extreme violence of war, as a consequence they lost the baby. The full family fled from Aleppo and after crossing the border, they reached a camp in Gaziantep. After staying there for a few days (they found the situation in the camp not suitable for them) they travelled a long way to Istanbul. After reaching Istanbul, he had no work for two months. Currently he is working in a belt shop. His youngest son Mustafa (1.5) is now in hospital. His head size is expanding day by day because of a reaction to chemical warfare. At present, the rent of the house is 500 (TL) lira and he hardly earns 700 (TL) lira per month. It is very hard for Gajim to bear all the expenses of his family. May 20th, 2014. Istanbul, Turkey.
Many Syrian refugees can be seen in Istanbul (especially in Fatih) sitting at the edges of out of the way streets or in front of old abandoned buildings. Though the living conditions are very poor, there they feel safe, out of the way of the main hustle and bustle of Turkish life. May 21st, 2014. Istanbul, Turkey.
Hasan was brutally tortured in Syria. After losing all his properties and possessions, he came to Istanbul just three months ago. He got temporary shelter in a small restaurant and is still searching for job and proper accommodation. He would love to move somewhere else because he has found the Turkish people unwelcoming. May 19th, 2014. Istanbul, Turkey. 
A small cafe in Küçük Pazar, which is full of Syrians almost all the time. Mostly young Syrians spend their time here by smoking, gossiping and playing cards.  Interestingly, most of them obtain money for playing poker and gambling by sending the younger children out to beg on the streets. The cafe owners claim that the Syrians are intolerable as they make noise, sometimes fight with each other for money and most importantly that this situation harms their business. May 26th, 2014. Istanbul, Turkey. 
Kids buy snacks from local department stores with money obtained from begging. They rarely get one standard meal per day. It is difficult for Syrian parents to take proper care in this kind of uncertain situation. May 19th, 2014. Istanbul, Turkey.
Hasan is from Aleppo. He lost his father while fleeing from Syria. He got the scar on his face during that time. Now he is staying in a park in Fatih with his mother and two younger sisters. All of them beg in front of the mosques, as they have no other choice. May 19th, 2014. Istanbul, Turkey.
A kid playing “Bang-Bang” with a toy gun on the street. Seeing a camera pointed at him, made him anxious and he started firing in self-defense. Conflicts and war have the worst impact on the children. The violence affects children’s sensitive minds. May 19th, 2014. Istanbul, Turkey. 
A free Syrian school named "Seraj" run by Syrian youth. The school is only six months old and many obstacles were overcome to establish it. Most of the kids in this school have witnessed the horror of war in Syria. Here, the teachers and kids were preparing for a festival where the kids would perform a drama in which they would show how they had been tortured under the regime and how the war had destroyed everything. May 27th, 2014. Istanbul, Turkey.
There are several charities and NGOs in different parts of Istanbul, that are meant to help the Syrian refugees. Syrian Nour is a charity that provides many kind of facilities, most importantly medical. Refugees get free medical check ups, medicine etc. But the number of refugees is increasing so rapidly that it is becoming very difficult to give proper support to all of them. May 22nd, 2014. Istanbul, Turkey. 
Steve playing basketball with his younger brother. He was a national basketball player with a record of 52 points in one single game in school championships in Holms. He completed his education at a Syrian military school and he was active in military service for several years. Steve was sent to jail more than ten times as he always stood up against injustice and protested against the regime. Now he is in Istanbul without a job but his protest goes on. May 23rd, 2014. Istanbul, Turkey. 
Fadel is a Darbuka performer. He graduated in music production & sound engineering. He protests against the regime through music on the radio. He is the founder of a radio program called “Yasmin Shaam”. In this program he telecasts music and speeches about justice, equality and freedom. When he was doing his activism in Syria, he got arrested three times. To save his life he migrated to Istanbul. May 22nd, 2014. Istanbul, Turkey. 
Ali is a young protester in Istanbul. He went to jail several times in Syria and faced brutal torture. He didn’t want to leave his homeland but in the end he had no other option. Ali strongly believes in freedom for the future and always stands against the regime no matter what he has to face. He has a new girlfriend from Australia and he loves to spend time with her even though he knows that the future is very uncertain. May 28th, 2014. Istanbul, Turkey. 
Mansour-al-Atassi is one of the prominent leaders of the Syrian communist party, which is the major political opposition of Bashar-al-Assad. Like the other Syrian refugees, he was also forced to leave Syria and find shelter in Istanbul. Here, a secret meeting is going on at his house regarding the next steps and strategy. May 22nd, 2014. Istanbul, Turkey. 
A protest going on, against elections in Syria, organized by the protesters and activists living in Istanbul. May 26th, 2014. Istanbul, Turkey. 
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