Syrian Kurds Seek Refuge in Istanbul

Collection with 25 media items created by Arianna Pagani

Turkey 14 Apr 2015 12:55

After the outbreak of war in Syria in 2012, a large part of the Kurdish population of Rojava in Syrian Kurdistan has sought shelter in Turkey. Many of these refugees passed at first through refugee camps in eastern Turkey and left due to the harsh conditions. Others succeeded to enter Turkey otherwise and to make their own way to major cities. The situation for refugees in Istanbul shows two distinct tendencies. For Syrians, refugees of war are given what is called "temporary protection," which involves more help from the government, while for Kurds, the government of Turkey offers what it calls "temporary asylum." 

In a wide spectrum of refugees with greater or lesser economic capacity, some have found accommodation in neighborhoods with Kurdish communities already present, while other parts of the refugee community have been forced to squat abandoned buildings. To start the asylum process requires an application to the Turkish government and a separate one to the UNHCR (for recognition of refugee status), however some do not posess the necessary identification to even begin. A high percentage of refugees in Istanbul arrived in the city directly from the refugee camps along the Turkey-Syria border. They have less opportunities and greater chances of being arrested by the authorities and being sent back to the camps.

People living in the poorest neighborhoods, such as Tarlablaşı, which extends nearly down to the main tourist streets of the city of Istanbul, are now confronted with a new restructuring plan implemented by the government of Prime Minister Erdogan. The continuous flow of refugees who come to Turkey from Syria, and the difficulties Kurdish refugees face in being recognized as asylum seekers by the Turkish government indicate a situation that is far from ending.

Beyoğlu Gaziosmanpaşa Tarlabaşı Istanbul Kurdish Refugee Taksim Turkey Syria War Refugees Identity Human Rights Asylum Tarlablasi Bastabya Migration Unhcr Un Conflict

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 01
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

The district of Tarlabasi is an intricate labyrinth of streets surrounded by now-decaying houses from the Ottoman era. The street here has acquired greater importance than the home, and women and their children have developed a particular relationship to the space.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 02
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

A young Kurdish girl has lost her mother while crossing the Turkish-Syrian border. She and her other family members have no valid documents to stay in Turkey, and she has also been denied access to education.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 03
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

Fleeing from the war, many children have been separated from their families. The refugee community requires specific assistance programs that deal with psychological trauma of children.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 04
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

Access to the labor market, health care and education are not guaranteed to refugees without passports. The temporary nature of everything to do or own defines their status as refugees.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 05
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

Istanbul, Tarlablasi. Even inside abandoned places Kurds providing refuge and sources and arranged the room "of the first night marriage".

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 06
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

A refugee woman walks through a side street in Tarlablasi. The continued violation of the human right to move away from a war zone and to remain in another country is a reality not end unless governments take resolute measures.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 07
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

A mother shows the only document that she possesses, the identification card from the refugee camp in Diyarbakir from which she and her seven children were able to escape. This alone is not enough to file a request for asylum.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 08
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

Composed of 9 blocks and 278 pitches, the Tarlablasi area was declared a regeneration zone by the government. Down the narrow streets of the neighborhood, many refugee families live in unfinished buildings without a permit to stay.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 09
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

This district in the Beyoğlu municipality is the lively heart of the Kurdish community in Istanbul. In 1990, a large number of immigrants from southeastern Turkey moved to Tarlablasi, and even today it is arrival point for many Kurdish refugees.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 10
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

A Turkish landlord in Bastabya has not cleared the entire apartment before new tenants, paying per month, move in.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 11
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

In the evening the women of some Kurdish families in the Bastabya neighborhood gather in one of their homes to drink tea together and discuss possibilities for the future.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 12
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

A family of Syrian Kurdish refugees living in Bastabya crossed the Turkish border illegally, paying smugglers for their passage. Since they arrived, the family of six all live on the outskirts of Istanbul without a permit.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 13
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

Many refugee families of Syrian and Iraqi minorities live on the outskirts of Istanbul. Europe is regarded by most refugees as a possible alternative to their situation.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 14
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

Refugee families in the Bastabya district express a form of solidarity through the time they spend together. A friend Sobhi's family came to talk about his son who remained in Syria to fight against the army of Assad.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 15
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

Rebuilding a life in a new city and being able to share moments of intimacy in an extended family can be complicated. Social networks help families to maintain contact with people who are still in Syria.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 16
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

The bedrooms in refugee housing are shared by several people. Boys and girls tend to be in separate rooms.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 17
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

Aldar shows photographs of his house in Aleppo after the bombing. The photographs have been printed and used to create an exhibition to educate people about the Syrian situation in his neighborhood in Istanbul.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 18
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

The proportion of refugees between 8 and 24 years-old is constantly growing. At night they come together for dinner in temporary shelters.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 19
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

Solidarity between Kurdish refugee families is very present. Many times other Kurds are hosted even if they are not from the same family.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 20
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

Sobhi has lived with his family in Istanbul for three years. Arriving legally in Turkey, he has had to make his request for asylum before to the government, then before the UNHCR office. Sobhi and his wife can work regularly, and the children can go to Turkish public school, now that his application has been accepted.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 21
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

A.C. fled from Damascus where he worked as a French teacher.
Refugees who entered illegally into Turkey from Syria face difficulties finding regular jobs.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 22
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

Memories are drawn on the walls of Sobhi's room. He explains that it is a habit of some refugees to write phrases and make drawings reminding them of their homes on the walls.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 23
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

Since 2012, there are about 1 million Syrian refugees and 70,000 refugees from minority groups from Syria living in Istanbul.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 24
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

There are two ways to request political asylum in Turkey: "temporary protection" for Syrian refugees, and "temporary asylum" for Syrian Kurdish refugees. In the Turkish metropolis, a destination for millions of tourists every year, the reality of the war in Syria has become visible to many people from all over the world.

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Syrian Kurds in Istanbul 25
Istanbul
By Arianna Pagani
04 Apr 2014

The opportunity to grow up in a family environment and the right to national identity and to education established by the UN Convention on the Rights of Children are not only destroyed by war, but are perpetuated by a lack of readiness on the part of host countries.