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Today friends and I made 120 lunches and care packages for Syrian refugees who are stuck at the bus station (Esenler Otogar, Bayrampaşa) in Istanbul. We didn’t have nearly enough, as there are 2000 people there after 5 days, and growing.
A small group of us made 40 lunches and 12 care packages.
They are living and sleeping on the street at a mosque behind the bus terminal. Police barricaded people inside the mosque, saying if they leave they cannot re-enter. Most of the people are inside the mosque but police would not grant us permission to enter.
As we handed out sandwiches, fruit, chocolates, and care packages, curious and friendly people approached us, talked to us, told us stories of how they arrived, why they need to leave, and asked us to take photos to show the world. They said PLEASE ASK THE WORLD TO HELP US, please ask Turkey to open the border into Bulgaria.
Turkey closed the border to Bulgaria, and Syrians are forbidden to take buses, taxis, private cars, bicycles, or even walk. They risk being turned away and even sent back to refugee camps in Eastern Turkey. The media shows us how dangerous it is traveling to Greece by boat, and with the closed border they have few options.
A Turkish government official spoke with us, saying the border is closed because they are saving the Syrians from getting robbed and attacked in neighboring countries. They say it’s too dangerous to cross the border.
But. Shouldn’t that choice be up to the individual? Shouldn’t they have the option to take that risk?
My friends and I will go back again this week and next week to bring things to them. If you live in Istanbul and would like to donate supplies, please contact me. If you live abroad and would like to send a donation so we can buy supplies, please contact me.
They need food, water, blankets, diapers, baby food, medicine.
If anyone knows a doctor in Istanbul that would kindly check up on them, please contact me. We heard over and over that medicine for babies and children is needed.
One lady told us she only has one kidney and really needs a blanket.
The situation is heart breaking and will continue to worsen over the next few days/weeks/months if the border doesn’t open up.
#crossingnomore #esenleresesver #edirneyesesver
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