Iraqi Families Bags Packed for 5 years | Istanbul, Turkey
Not bothering to unpack, an Iraqi family displaced by war awaits orders to move from temporary housing in Istanbul to a "satellite city" designated for refugees and asylum seekers while authorities consider their resettlement applications. Many of the world's 11 million refugees and asylum seekers—persons uprooted by conflict or persecution—live in a similar limbo, often unable to gain legal status in a new home country.
The United States killed this family's only son in the March, 2006 bombing of Baghdad. They tried to get out of Iraq the next day and swear they will never return—the memory of their son being killed right in front of them is just too much. Also killed in the bombing were four people next door to them, a brother-in-law, and a number of cousins. The children still have minor scars. They spent 2006 through 2009 in northern Iraq Kurd territory trying to get refugee status to get into Turkey. They were processed at the Kumkapi Refugee Center in 2009 and their passports were kept in return for Turkish identity papers and the promise that they would not leave Istanbul. The UN refugee agency got them medical and school status. The father says they like Turkey and he would even consider the fake marriage that many Muslim foreigners do but even that would take them five years. They keep their bags packed with all their possessions because they will leave soon for a Turkish refugee camp. All the possessions you see in their house are donations, which they will leave behind, only taking their already packed suitcases. They will have less freedom at the refugee camp, but it is a big mystery to them. They figure they will be in the camp for a year. They are free on the streets now because Turkey is kind to immigrants even though they don't really accept them. The Turkish government is allowing the kids to finish school this year before forcing the family into a refugee camp. They think they have a good chance to get into the U.S. (ironically) because of sympathy for what the USA did to their child.Buy This Image