Fleeing the horrors of war and the smell of death, Kilis is the first town where Syrian refugees feel safe and thank God for crossing the borders into Turkey.
Kilis , which is a little town on the Syrian-Turkish borders is now home to about 100,000 Syrians who decided to stay there, at the nearest spot to their homeland in hope that they would return one day when the war is over.
Thousands of Syrian refugees pass by the town in their way to other cities in Turkey . They stop there for some rest and they usually receive kind help from the people of Kilis.
According to GlobalPost, Syrians outnumber Turkish people in Kilis. Around 120,000 have settled in the town and surrounding area, 35,000 of them in camps. One of those camps hosts some 15,000 refugees. It has a school, health care facilities and well-built container shelters.
Such numbers are usual nowadays with many towns in Turkey and Lebanon hosting huge numbers of refugees. However, what’s unusual is the kindness and charity of the locals at Kilis.
Some of the locals have spoken to the GlobalPosts’s correspondent:
“There is no difference between us,” says Halil, the owner of a cafe frequented by Syrians. “We serve them here like everyone else and some of them work for us.”
Standing next to him, a young Syrian boy holding a tray of tea. He’s one of the few Syrians on staff here.
“I like it here. People are good. No one bothers me,” he says, before darting off to serve more customers.
People at Kilis have done a lot to help their Syrian brothers and sisters. It was enough to motivate the deputy head of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Ayhan Sefer Ustun, to nominate the people of Kilis for the Nobel Peace Prize. (The Greek island of Lesbos was nominated for the same reason a few weeks earlier.)
“People share their jobs, houses, trades and social spaces [with Syrian refugees]. I suppose that such an example of an act of mass peace does not exist in the world,” he wrote in his letter to the Nobel committee.
“What would happen if 2.5 million refugees, who fled the war, would come to Paris where 2.5 million people live? What would the British think and do if 3 million refugees, who fled the war or natural disaster for shelter, came to London, which has a population of more than 3 million? What would their criteria for tolerance and understanding be in such a case?” he wrote
It’s no secret that the burden of the Syrian refugee crisis has weighed on Turkey more than any other country. It has taken in more than 2.5 million Syrians and spent billions of dollars building refugee camps and providing care.
Back to the kind people of Kilis, Mustafa, an elderly food stall owner says:
“There is no problem here, no problem at all. Look around you, there are Syrians everywhere. They are our brothers,” he says.
And what of the 50,000 waiting on the border?
“Let them in! We will put them on our heads if we have to.”