Amire Faqir is a refugee woman who escaped from the war in Afghanistan with her family and now lives in Van (Wan), trying to make a living by selling vegetables in the street. Her only dream is to return to her country when the war ends.
She does not speak Turkish so her grandchild translated her words as she was interviewed by Jin News.
The language barrier is one of the most severe problems refugees face in Turkey, she said.
“There has been a war in my country for years. I migrated to Van with my children to survive. There were also days when we spent the nights outside. But I’ve never had this hard a time in any period”, she said, referring to her situation under lockdown during the pandemic.
“I am trying to pay my rent and bills from the money that I make by selling these vegetables. However, I can only make at most 30 Turkish Liras per day (or UK £2.54 per day, as per today’s mid-market exchange rate as identified by xe.com)”. She has to look after five people in her family.
“One of my daughters is disabled. She lost her leg because of the war. We experience great hardship. I want this war to end and return to my country”, she states.
You can see many refugees in the streets of Van like Amire since the city lies along the Iranian-Turkey border and is one of the transit points of the refugees, especially for refugees travelling from Iran and Afghanistan. Some are heading for Europe from Turkey but some like Amira prefer to stay in Van.
However, the refugees are exposed to both discrimination and exploitation in Turkey, where they arrive with the expectation of a “humane life”. Women refugees are also exposed to sexual abuse whilst working on the streets and most of the time the perpetrators are not punished at all.