Kobane Kurds stranded on landmine-ridden border
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In Kobane, a Syrian city located near the border with Turkey, street battles are raging between jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) group and Kurdish fighters. A few hundred metres away, more than 2,000 Kurdish refugees have amassed at the border on terrain riddled with landmines.
Kurdish refugees on the Turkish border, near Kobane. All photos were sent by Zara Misto, who writes for the site Welatî.
In Kobane, a Syrian city located near the border with Turkey, street battles are raging between jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) group and Kurdish fighters. A few hundred metres away, more than 2,000 Kurdish refugees have massed at the border on terrain riddled with landmines.
These Kurdish refugees, for the most part farmers and their families, have been camping for nearly three weeks in a no-man’s land on the border between Syria and Turkey. They’re trapped – on one site, the Turkish authorities won’t let them across the border with their livestock and tractors, and on the other, IS fighters are getting dangerously close.
These refugees are concentrated in two areas: Tel al-Chair, about 2 kilometres west of Kobane, and Kikane, about four kilometres east. Both zones are full of anti-personnel mines planted by Turkish authorities in the 1980s. Several refugees have already been wounded by mines in the past weeks.
The barbed wire marks the Turkey-Syria border. The Turkish army has deployed its tanks along the border.
“Several children have been wounded; some even had to be amputated”Idris fled his village, located near Kobane, a few days ago. He is now in Tel al-Chair, just one kilometre from the fighting.
We are facing a very difficult choice. We can either cross the border into Turkey and leave everything we own behind, and risk losing it all to looters, or we can stay in Kobane, and risk getting killed.
There are hundreds of families camping out here. We’re sleeping on the ground and only eating one meal a day, provided by the Turkish Red Crescent organisation. The Turkish authorities have allowed refugees to cross the border, but they refuse to let in any livestock, vehicles, or farm equipment. And once we cross the border, they won’t let us back into Syria. That means that we would have to leave all our belongings in Syria, and start our lives from scratch in Turkey. Some Kobane residents managed to get their livestock across surreptitiously, but security along the border has since been reinforced.