Refugee route (from Turkey to Germany)
Doing the 'refugee route' from Greece until Germany during 10 days, crossing seven borders as a Syrian. Publication of a "Diary of an exodus" with my own photographies, a 5-days (9 pages) series reportage of the trip for the Spanish newspaper LA RAZÓN. Doing the 'refugee route' from Turkey to Germany during 11 days as a cameraman for the Mexican TV TELEVISA. Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Germany. September - October 2015.
Drama on the Greek islands
More than 30 articles about the refugee crisis in Europe. First journalist to gain access to the 'Eleftheros Venizelos', the Greek government's boat to bring the migrants from the islands to Athens. Four times on the Greek islands (Lesbos, Kos, Rodhes, Symi) where the refugee boats arrive from Turkey. The first time in April, when the media did not cover the refugee crisis yet. Cover page on Sunday edition of the sinking of a boat in Rodhes island. Coverage of the drama in the Greek islands for LA RAZÓN and ELDIARIO:ES.
Greece. April - September 2015.
Kobane refugees, Syrian border
Special reportage in English and photo-gallery for the Migration Policy Centre about the Kobane refugees in Suruç (Turkish-Syrian border). Suruç, Turkey. October 2014.
Kurdish refugees struggle to adapt to hard conditions in the camps in Suruç
AITOR SÁEZ / Suruç, October 2014
“Kobani, spelled with an i. Yes, that’s it. Write your Facebook down and I will add you as soon as I can. Do you have a pen?”
Mehmet (17) has been living for almost one month in the Suruç refugee camp, one of the first to be built after Kurdish refugees arrived en masse to southern Turkey following an assault by Islamic State’s militants on the northern Syrian city of Kobani in late September.
Mehmet’s father rushed to find a cushion for me and to grab some tea from the tent next door, the 81. “We used to have a beautiful house which might be destroyed by the time we go back,” he said, “but I really hope we will have the chance to return.” The local People’s Protection Unit (YPG) had advised them to leave the city after the violence began to escalate, Mehmet explained. Islamic State’s attacks in the region of Rojava have so far displaced some 200,000 people into Turkish territory, according to data published by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The population of Suruç, 20,000 inhabitants, tripled over the course of late September and early October. One of the coordinators of Suruç camp explained that even though the situation is stable now, difficulties remain. A number of families are still living in the streets and the camp is experiencing shortages of medicine and food.
While women and children queue to receive their families’ daily rations of rice and bread from the Red Crescent, men tend to spend the day at the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) headquarters, the epicenter of news and emotions for Kobani.
Suruç Municipality, governed by the BDP, coordinates humanitarian aid and manages the camps. According to BDP representative Ismail Shahin, Suruç will never stop hosting people coming from Rojava (northern Syria/southwest Kurdistan) “since they are our people.” Many Kurds refuse to recognise the Turkish-Syrian border established after First World War and that divided tens of thousands of Kurdish families. Some of them are hosted by relatives in Suruç, while others have occupied empty houses. The Avesta Dugun Salonu, a wedding and ceremony hall, has been converted into a mass sleeping area and many families have taken shelter in the Ahmed-I Bican mosque.
The municipality has so far done its best to fulfill refugees’ needs. Local organisations have taken over coordination of the camps, and humanitarian goods have been stored in an improvised warehouse that was, until recently, a garage for lorries. Dozens of Turkish and Kurdish volunteers from across Turkey now work in that warehouse, which has become a hub of activity in recent weeks.
“We are now more organised, but it is difficult to calculate the amounts we can distribute. We do not know for how long will the conflict last”, says Deniz Dilan, one of the volunteers at the warehouse. According to Dilan, the worst is yet to come. Winter is imminent, and the weather in Suruc can become bitterly cold. “We need warm clothes and medicines,” Dilan said.
“Two of my brothers are already sick”, said Mehmet, “during the night is freezing in the camps”. Mehmet, like many other youngsters, spends his days strolling the city to pass the time, helping out his family where he can. “I am going now to get some aspirin from the Cultural Centre. Do you want to come with me?” The library, which probably for the first time has long queues of people waiting to enter, is now used as a makeshift dispensary for refugees.
Suruç has turned into a symbol of Kurdish resistance. It is an improvised rearguard, where thousands of people attempt to maintain their humanity even as they watch their houses being destroyed only a few miles away. Despite the hospitality of the neighbouring city, all of them concur in one fact: their home is on the other side of the border.