Winter Wreaks Havoc on Syrian Refugees


Inside his tent, a lantern and wind-up flashlight dangle from the ceiling. His 46 year-old cousin Samira's eyes well up when she thinks about returning home. Her 17 year-old son was crushed when artillery shells landed on their house in Jisr ash-Shughour, then her husband was shot in the head while riding his motorcycle to work.

"I feel like I'm going to die," she said. "[Syria] can never be the same again...too much has happened and is different."

Many would prefer to stay in Syria rather than crossing the border into Turkey, but it's clear that many others yearn for the relative comfort and safety of the camps there. Turkish camps along the 500-mile border are housing almost 140,000 Syrian refugees but for now they are only accepting the most vulnerable as they build two more camps to accommodate the relentless flow of those seeking shelter.

Even once those camps are built, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, they will have to be selective in who is allowed in.

"We prefer to establish camps in Syria," said Suphi Atan.

Another is being built by local Syrian committees just inside the Syria border, a short distance from the Bab al-Hawa border crossing which is controlled on the Syrian side by rebel groups. But the camp was finished, locals say, it was bombed by Syrian warplanes. During a short visit to the camp, tents lay in tatters around the blast radius.

Now, with temperatures dropping fast, the race is on to finish and improve the camps and to secure more support.

"I can say we're trying, but I don't think we can support all these people," said camp manager Shishakly. "The refugees are really mad at the international community. Nobody's helping them, nobody's looking at them, nobody's caring about their needs."

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