A Human Tragedy in the 21st
Century - Yazidi Refugee Camps in Turkey
Aftermath Project 2015 & Alfred Fred
Photography Award 2015
Nobody wants to be a refugee.
This is a way of life that others imposed on them. Yazidis living in
refugee camps who escaped from northern Iraq is a part of this tragedy
today. To visit them in the camps which they live at Southern Turkey and
listen to their stories was my Project. My work began on Dec.04,2014 and
completed on April.22,2015. In this period I lived in tents in the camps
which have given to me I have eaten the same food with them. It was
important to be close to them and listen to their stories. The total
number of refugees living in these camps was around 14000 people. I have
traveled a total of 8,000 km in three separate trips.
Who are Yazidis?
They are a mostly-Kurdish
speaking ethnic population. Their belief system has roots in ancient
Mesopotamian religions and Zoroastrianism.
They have a hierarchical social
structure made up of three castes: the sheiks, the murids and the pirs. Marriage
between the castes is not permited.
Marriage outside of the faith is grounds for "excommunication".
This is a society that
beliefs in the inifinity of the world and the nature. They believe that
God, who created the world, would never destroy it. They pray three
times a day, facing the sun. Wednesday is the day of rest. They believe
that the first man was created on a Wednesday.
Today, there are an estimated
800 000 Yazidis in the world. 650 000 of the entire population lives in
They are experiencing what
they consider to be their 74.genocide. This is because they have a
different belief system. They have been subjected to violence and
genocide at all ages because they did not want to renounce their faith.
They were forced to flee their
homes after fighters for the Islamist group ISIS invaded their
territory. Many took refuge on Mount Shingal. Mount Shingal is
considered holy ground. Later they were passed through a secure corridor
created by the fighters and brought to the Turkish-Iraqi border. This
secure corridor saved 30.000 Yazidis from a certain death.
Their basic needs are met at
the camp, but their future remains uncertain. Funding for four camps
where Yazidis are accommodated come from municipalities run by the BDP.
Their budgets are limited. Any donations are sent to people in need
through a central coordination center. The donations have to keep on
coming. Children at the camps continue to receive an education thanks to
the efforts of volunteer teachers, defiant in the ugly face of war. Two
types of schools have been organized: Pre-school and primary education.
Nusaybin and Midyat refugee
Camps were belong to Turkish Government. The needs of refugees are met
more regularly according to municipality camps.
I interviewed quite a lot of
people. I asked them about their lives at the camp, about how they came
to be there and what their expectations were from the future. What they
all have in common is their unwillingness to return home. They don't
want to be reminded of what they have been through out there. All they
want is to live and practice their faith peacefully in a free and
democratic country that will have them.
People tell you a lot of
stories during live interviews. However, what struck me the most was the
words of 17-year-old highschool junior Halime:
"I studied for 10 years. Look
where I am now."
A sea of shattered dreams, a
future full of uncertainty and a wait full of hope.