Um Bilal, a mother of three, has tried to cross the border with her children dozens of times over the course of three months, so far without any success. She described one such attempt to me:
“I remember on one crossing attempt, a woman and her son were with us, and when the [Turkish] gendarmerie [along the border] opened fire, a bullet entered his back and left through his stomach. No one came to help him. When his mother started screaming, the gendarmerie came and took her to prison, then put a cloth bandage on her son and sent him to prison as well. He was getting worse, so his mother screamed at the guards, ‘take me back to Syria! I want to treat my son,’ then collapsed.
I watched a Turkish officer scream in her face: ‘Turkey is not for Syrians, you risked your child’s life, so bear the consequences.’ As she cried and screamed that her child was dying, eventually they took the child to a clinic inside Turkey. The rest of us spent the entire day in prison, and the next morning they deported us all back to Syria, including the mother, while her son was treated in Turkey.”
To read Um Bilal's full story, as well as a firsthand account of a successful crossing into Turkey, click here.