Journey with Refugees: The City of Life Jackets

CGR

Tue Nov 17 2015 15:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

IZMIR, TURKEY - Over the next six weeks we will be journeying with Syrian refugees on their way through the “Refugee Highway.” Stops from our Canadian Global Response photojournalist partner Jedediah Smith include Turkey, Lesbos Island (Turkey), Athens to Idomeni border (Greece), Macedonia, Serbia-Croatia, and Slovenia, as the refugees find their way into other Western and Northern European countries.

IZMIR, TURKEY - Over the next six weeks we will be journeying with Syrian refugees on their way through the “Refugee Highway.” Stops from our Canadian Global Response photojournalist partner Jedediah Smith include Turkey, Lesbos Island (Turkey), Athens to Idomeni border (Greece), Macedonia, Serbia-Croatia, and Slovenia, as the refugees find their way into other Western and Northern European countries.

Life jackets become a last-minute expense for refugees, costing between 30-50 euros each from small businesses being quickly setup to accommodate the mass migration across the Aegean and Cretan Seas. Unfortunately, the vests are made of cheap material and if wet would not last more than twenty minutes. Expensive brand names are stamped or sewn on to ensure quality to refugees. Because the jackets cannot be resold and have no lasting value, they are left on Grecian beaches.

Syrian refugees are waiting in Izmir, which is the third largest city in Turkey and the second largest seaport after Istanbul. Currently, ‘The City of Life Jackets’ is the nickname for this city because there are so many life jackets and rubber tubes in the shops and in refugees’ hands. Refugees are using this city as a springboard to go to one of the Greek islands before reaching their final destination, which is mostly likely Germany.

They purchase life jackets and rubber tubes while waiting for the smuggling broker who will provide a dinghy to cross the Greek sea. However, many of them have already been robbed of about $1000 per person by brokers. In addition, the weather here is reaching between 3 to 8 degrees celsius during the night and it will worsen after November. Refugees need to sleep on the streets or in the mosque yards while only having a blanket to cover them.

Many children have also experienced trauma throughout the war, particularly on their sensitive ears from explosions, in addition to the constant travelling and changes of sleeping and eating habits.

Their goal is to leave Turkey to get to the Greek island and continue their journey through the ‘Refugee Highway’ in Europe as soon as possible. There is a sense of urgency as the chilly and rainy weather is approaching rapidly.

Thank you for your generosity in partnering with CGR in making a difference in the lives of many Syrian refugees by providing advocacy, basic needs, and education to Syrian refugee children.

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