Abandoned on the border

Abandoned on the border


In a remote and deserted landscape, a baby’s cradle, left behind by Syrian Kurdish refugees, lies at the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province.

More than 150,000 Syrian Kurds have fled to Turkey since the frontier opened to escape the advances of Islamic State militants, who have seized villages and beheaded residents as they push towards the strategic border town Kobani.

"I found an odd slipper or a shoe: memoirs of someone’s previous life, now left behind."
Murad Sezer, Reuters Photographer

A new crossing point was set up along the Turkish-Syrian border last week by the government of Turkey, where humanitarian agencies and the Red Crescent offered first aid and registered the new arrivals.

The frontier was normally a hive of activity, with wailing children and families desperately trying to carry whatever they could manage across the dusty terrain. Heavily armed security officers patrolled the border and police would search bags before the refugees passed into Turkey.

When they arrived on the other side, some would sit on their luggage looking lost, others would scramble onto buses or trucks, which would leave three or four times a day to ferry people to refugee camps on the Turkish side.

On this particular day, I went in the morning to check how many refugees were registering but, to my surprise, the refugee collection didn’t start; the dust swept area was eerily silent, deserted except for a few policemen and the abandoned cars of Syrian refugees visible through the barbed wire on the border.

Bewildered, I started to look around me. My eyes fell on an empty baby’s bed, and I thought: “How is it possible for someone to leave behind such a basic, but important, thing for a baby?”

All sorts of questions struck me. Were their owners in a hurry? Was there no space in the bus or truck? What forced them to abandon it?

As I photographed the carriage, I thought how lonely and sad it seemed. For me, it signified a kind of hopelessness. If its owners had felt hope, perhaps they would not have left it.

I took four images using a 24mm wide-angle lens. I photographed the deserted border area in the background aiming to illustrate the desperation the refugees feel, and the harshness of the environment, where baking sun can turn to driving rain in an instant.

Afterwards, I continued searching the area and I found an odd slipper or a shoe: memoirs of someone’s previous life, now left behind.