Escaping Kobane: Relief and guilt

Waiting, either for the border to reopen, or to die – if not from starvation, then at the hands of I

There are no NGOs working near the border, writes Mami [AFP]
There are no NGOs working near the border, writes Mami [AFP]

My name is Wasiq Mami and I’m 45 years old. I am originally from Kobane but I managed to make it across the border to Turkey six days ago. Everyone wasn’t so lucky. I’ve come to the border now to offer some bread and food to my relatives on the Syrian side but the Turkish military won’t allow us to get anywhere near the fences. All I’m asking is for them to let me swing these bags of bread over the fence. These are not weapons – it’s just bread.

There are thousands of people left stranded on the Syrian side and no one is coming here anymore to ask how these people are doing. How they’re managing to survive without food, water and shelter for so many days. There is no media here, local or international. Where has everyone disappeared?

The Turkish military told us that after October 9, no one would be able to cross over into Turkey anymore. Now soldiers guard the border, preventing any of us from the Turkish side to deliver food to those people starving there. Now these people are waiting, either for the border to reopen, or to die – if not from starvation, then at the hands of ISIL fighters.

Kobane’s injured fighters keen to return to battle

The only news we get is how many fighters from the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) were killed today, or whose home was destroyed or who lost a daughter or a son in the battle. Our children will remember these dark days – if they remain alive.

‘Now I regret it’

I wish I hadn’t crossed the border. Now I regret it. I feel guilty when my family here can eat bread, but half of my family over on the Syrian side does not.

I have access to the outside world but half of my family there is now stuck on that small strip of land. You can see it from here, how horrible it is to live on that empty land.

They can’t turn back. They can’t simply return to Kobane because of the ongoing fighting. You can hear it from here. The constant bombing. Look at the sky. There’s always a trail of smoke.

It was this tension that I could not bear anymore. I did not want my children to experience this every day, so I gave in. I finally fled to Turkey with my wife and children after camping on the border for 12 days. It was a dreadful experience.

Over there, we had no tents, and we all slept in the cars and trucks in which some of us had come. But it isn’t any less dreadful here. Now we worry about our brothers on the other side. We’ve heard of more than 50 casualties since we arrived here. People are dying of hunger, and the elderly are succumbing to the stress of living in a hostile environment. Three children have died since October 9 from land mines. They were just playing and accidentally stumbled on the mines.

On one side, ISIL is making headway, and on the other, we are treated horribly by Turkey. All Turkey cares about is its fear that we, the Kurds, will join a movement against them or that they will lose leverage against its enemy, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). They don’t seem to care about the human loss. What do civilians have to do with politics or war? All we want is safety – a secure world for our children to grow up in. Will nobody speak up for us?

Where is the UN? What is Nato doing? Where is the US and its popular promises to promote human rights? Have they no influence over the Turkish government?

Thousands of people are starving there without any assistance. They have run out of food and basic supplies. They were used to living without electricity and water, so they are tough and they are trying to overcome these hardships somehow.

As refugees in Turkey, we get some help from our Kurdish brothers in Turkey. Our community is our only support. There are no NGOs working near the border, because the Turkish government is not giving permission to independent organisations.

We are being sacrificed just like we have been sacrificed before in history. We know while our youth sheds their blood and gets beheaded by cold-hearted terrorists, the cold-hearted world is watching in silence.

Wasiq Mami is a refugee from the northern Syrian town of Kobane.

This testimony was transcribed by Kiran Nazish at the Yumurtalik border crossing.

More from Author
Most Read