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Stuck Between A War & The Turkish Bor...
Azaz, Syria
By Ben Taub
03 Apr 2013

Transit Camp, A’zaz, SYRIA

“My wife will die if she doesn’t have heart surgery in three or four days,” Asad Hoammed lamented as he prepared tea in his UN refugee tent. But getting the operation first requires getting her out of war-torn Syria and into a Turkish hospital that would somehow be willing to treat her for free.

It’s been more than a month since Mr. Hoammed and his wife left their hometown of Tall Rifat seeking Turkish medical care, but having no money to begin a new life outside Syria has made the crossing impossible. Instead, they ended up in a refugee transit camp on the northern border with roughly 13,000 other Syrians waiting either to get into Turkey or for the war to end so they can go home and rebuild.

Most fled intense violence and shelling in and around Aleppo.

The tea was still too hot to drink, so Mr. Hoammed lit a cigarette. He took a slow drag as Syrian regime fighter jets bombed rebels laying siege to a military airport a few miles away. The distant thundering rattled none and inspired a few prayers for those likely killed, but the proximity posed no risk. Those few miles make a serious difference, as the transit camp is situated at the edge of the Turkish border. Any approaching jet would risk obliteration by Turkish air defenses.

Still, the transit camp isn’t a safe place to live. “One person is sick in every tent,” insisted the men gathered on Mr. Hoammed’s tarp floor. They blamed it on dirty drinking water.

Dr. Al-Nasr, who works for a group called “Medical Relief for Syria,” acknowledged the spread of disease is a dire situation but disputed that refugees’ drinking water is tainted in any way. “It’s a problem with sanitation, how to dispose of the bathing water and used toilet water,” he said. “There are lakes of waste in some areas.”

Most of the camp’s water and insect-linked health issues, such as diarrhea and scabies, are treatable. But when addressing complex civilian health emergencies, there’s simply no good option in northern Syria.

According to Dr. Al-Nasr, Turkish authorities will grant access and free hospital care if failure to perform a major operation would have urgent and imminent consequences. But how imminent is imminent? Mr. Hoammed thinks his wife has just a few days left to live, and that any action now may be too little, too late.

He paused for a moment, then reached for a plastic bag hanging from the tent wall from which he produced a coin-purse full of pills and a small Chinese charm sent by a business contact in Beijing two years ago. That was when his wife first fell ill. “This charm is to protect her health,” wrote the Chinese businessman.

At that time, Mr. Hoammed worked in a weapons manufacturing facility for the Syrian government. Soon after the war began, he defected and returned home to Tall Rifat. His two sons picked up arms a few months later, Abdel with the Free Syrian Army and Hamoud with Jabhat al-Nusra, the well-trained Islamist faction that also hopes to take down the Syrian regime.

Mr. Hoammed hasn’t seen his sons since he and his ill wife arrived at the transit camp in late February. Tonight he intends to plead his case and seek free crossing and heart surgery for the woman he has lived with and loved through war and peace.

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Children, victims of Syria's war (12 ...
Azaz, Syria
By Ryan Heughn Jacobs
16 Mar 2013

A boy walks through what once was the market in Azaz, Syria. With 35% of Syria's population under the age of 14, what happens to them now will determine Syria's future.

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Children, victims of Syria's war (11 ...
Azaz, Syria
By Ryan Heughn Jacobs
15 Mar 2013

Children play with a skipping rope in Azaz refugee camp. With 35% of Syria's population under the age of 14, what happens to them now will determine Syria's future.

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Children, victims of Syria's war (10 ...
Azaz, Syria
By Ryan Heughn Jacobs
14 Mar 2013

A young girl is accompanied by her mother in Bab al Salam refugee camp, Azaz. With 35% of Syria's population under the age of 14, what happens to them now will determine Syria's future.

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Children, victims of Syria's war (8 o...
Azaz, Syria
By Ryan Heughn Jacobs
14 Mar 2013

A young boy enjoys the small things in Azaz refugee camp as Syria's war enters its third bloody year. With 35% of Syria's population under the age of 14, what happens to them now will determine Syria's future.

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Children, victims of Syria's war (7 o...
Azaz, Syria
By Ryan Heughn Jacobs
14 Mar 2013

A Syrian boy walks between tents in the dank smoke filled wharehouse section of Azaz refugee camp on his way to collect water for his family. With 35% of Syria's population under the age of 14, what happens to them now will determine Syria's future.

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Children, victims of Syria's war (4 o...
Azaz, Syria
By Ryan Heughn Jacobs
14 Mar 2013

A young girl in Azaz refugee camp poses infront of her father(L) who lost his leg last year when a rocket hit their home in Aleppo. With 35% of Syria's population under the age of 14, what happens to them now will determine Syria's future.

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Children, victims of Syria's war (3 o...
Azaz, Syria
By Ryan Heughn Jacobs
14 Mar 2013

A Syrian refugee girl plays in a stream that runs through Azaz refugee camp. Human waste is often dumped into the same stream. With 35% of Syria's population under the age of 14, what happens to them now will determine Syria's future.

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Children, victims of Syria's war (2 o...
Azaz, Syria
By Ryan Heughn Jacobs
14 Mar 2013

A group of Syrian refugee boys play marbles on land which is being prepared for the expected influx of more refugees as Syria's war enters its third year. With 35% of Syria's population under the age of 14, what happens to them now will determine Syria's future.

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Children, victims of Syria's war (1 o...
Azaz, Syria
By Ryan Heughn Jacobs
14 Mar 2013

A young girl sits in the dirt in Azaz Refugee Camp. As refugee numbers increase, conditions deteriorate. With 35% of Syria's population under the age of 14, what happens to them now will determine Syria's future.

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Scud missile Aleppo
Aleppo, Syria
By toininou
19 Feb 2013

A scud missile hit the neighborhood of Djebel Badro in Aleppo this night. More than thirty people were killed. On these pictures syrian people are looking for bodies after the massacre.

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Garden camp for syrian refugees in Jo...
Ramtha, Jordan
By hamzaeqab
12 Feb 2013

This camp is designated for 1000 syrian refugees in Jordan - Ramtha

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An old women takes care of a little c...
Ramtha, Jordan
By hamzaeqab
12 Feb 2013

This women lives in a garden camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan at Ramtha city

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Little child living in garden camp fo...
Ramtha, Jordan
By hamzaeqab
12 Feb 2013

This little child lives in garden camp for Syrian refugees

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Childhood in refugee camps in Jordan
Ramtha, Jordan
By hamzaeqab
12 Feb 2013

Sidra a little girl living at garden camp for Syrian refugees

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Mosa is one of the Syrian refugees wh...
Ramtha, Jordan
By hamzaeqab
12 Feb 2013

Mosa is 28 years old from Dar'a his house was bombed in Syria and he escaped to Jordan through free syrian army

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School for Syrian Refugees in Turkey ...
Antakya, Turkey
By Jodi Hilton
15 Dec 2012

Maysam Selmo, 8, during her second day at Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children. She and her extended family fled their village in Idlib province of Syria. Now they live in a crowded apartment in the old city of Antakya. The school is overcrowded with 500 students and new students constantly arriving. Last week alone 115 new students enrolled.

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School for Syrian Refugees in Turkey ...
Antakya, Turkey
By Jodi Hilton
14 Dec 2012

A minibus drops children to the homes after school. Syrian refugee families a spread throughout Antakya, a small city close to the Syrian border, despite a new law prohibited them from residing there.

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School for Syrian Refugees in Turkey ...
Antakya, turkey
By Jodi Hilton
14 Dec 2012

Some Syrian children play at wrestling and fighting during recess while others play games, eat snacks and socialize at Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children. Violent play is common with traumatized children, especially those who have experienced violence.

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School for Syrian Refugees in Turkey ...
Antakya, Turkey
By Jodi Hilton
14 Dec 2012

Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children principal Sally Albunni, center, enrolls new student Nureddin, 11, who arrived with his mother to Antakya after his father was killed 15 days ago in Syria.

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School for Syrian Refugees in Turkey ...
Antakya, Turkey
By Jodi Hilton
14 Dec 2012

Children inside a minivan on their way home from Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children.

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School for Syrian Refugees in Turkey ...
Antakya, Turkey
By Jodi Hilton
14 Dec 2012

Children wait for minibuses to take them home from the Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children. School is free for Syrian children living in Turkey.

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School for Syrian Refugees in Turkey ...
Antakya, Turkey
By Jodi Hilton
14 Dec 2012

Children during recess at the Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children, where many seem enthusiastic about being back in school.

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School for Syrian Refugees in Turkey ...
Antakya, Turkey
By Jodi Hilton
14 Dec 2012

Rola Kadi, a Syrian American from Michigan, has been volunteering as an art teacher at the Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children.

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School for Syrian Refugees in Turkey ...
Antakya, Turkey
By Jodi Hilton
14 Dec 2012

Some Syrian children play at wrestling and fighting during recess while others play games, eat snacks and socialize at Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children. Violent play is common with traumatized children, especially those who have experienced violence.

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School for Syrian Refugees in Turkey ...
Antakya, Turkey
By Jodi Hilton
14 Dec 2012

Teacher Rafah Al Tinawie counsels a student outside class at the Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children. Al Tinawie says many children show signs of trauma and she sometimes meets with parents to understand what problems the children are facing.

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School for Syrian Refugees in Turkey ...
Antakya, Turkey
By Jodi Hilton
14 Dec 2012

Teachers at Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children are mostly devout. Between classes teachers Rafah Al Tinawie and Rola Kadi take a break to pray.

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School for Syrian Refugees in Turkey ...
Antakya, Turkey
By Jodi Hilton
14 Dec 2012

During recess, at Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children, some children climbed the school walls while others played games and roughhoused.

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School for Syrian Refugees in Turkey ...
Antakya, Turkey
By Jodi Hilton
14 Dec 2012

Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children's lower school is housed in a former apartment building on the outskirts of Antakya, near the border with Syria. Children attend in two shifts, morning and afternoon.

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School for Syrian Refugees in Turkey ...
Antakya, Turkey
By Jodi Hilton
14 Dec 2012

Cousins Suleyman Selmo, 9, and Kawthar Selmo, 10, receive donated clothes from the Albashayer School for Syrian Refugee Children on their second day at school. Many children and families are in need of basic supplies including food and clothing.

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Syrian refugees flock to aid truck in...
Zaatari, Mafraq Governate, Jordan
By Mat Wolf
15 Aug 2012

Crowds flock to a food distribution truck in the Zaatari Syrian refugee camp in Mafraq Governorate, Jordan. August 2012.

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Syrian child signals 'V' in Zaatari
Mafraq Governate, Jordan
By Mat Wolf
15 Aug 2012

A Syrian child signals a victory sign while waiting outside of a food truck in the Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan. August 15, 2012.

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Dust Brothers
Mafraq Governate, Jordan
By Mat Wolf
15 Aug 2012

Two teens mug for a photo outside of their shared tent in the Zaatari Syrian refugee camp in the Mafraq Governorate, Jordan. August 2012.

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UN Tent in Zaatari Marked with Graffiti
Mafraq Governate, Jordan
By Mat Wolf
15 Aug 2012

A tent marked with the words "Our homeland will be returned to us" in the Zaatari Syrian refugee camp in Mafraq Governorate, Jordan. August 15, 2012.