As the Syrian war enters its fifth year, Turkey’s economic centre, Istanbul, has seen the population of distressed Syrians swell. The patience of the local population, along with aid from the government, has been wearing thin.
While Istanbul has long been a hub for migrants travelling to and from Europe, Syrians have found themselves trapped in Turkey. It is almost impossible for them to obtain visas for onward travel to Europe, and most cannot return to Syria because of safety concerns. Many now find themselves living in squalor, with little hope for the future.
“Life in Turkey is very hard. Syrians cannot work because they do not have the necessary permits, and the only solution is to work illegally,” one refugee told Al Jazeera. “There are children who work 15 hours per day to bring their families little money, which is not even enough to buy bread. When the war is over, I want to go back to Damascus, to my family, to my land.”