AFTER previously hosting refugees from Syria and Myanmar, the streets of Bodrum are now being used as an outdoor camping site by Pakistani refugees.
Bodrum’s bazaar, known for its attraction for domestic and foreign tourists, has become an outdoor home to many young Pakistani men who left their country for a better life.
The concrete area has become a de facto camp rather than a touristic bazaar with blankets spread out on the ground.
Locals of Bodrum took meals to Pakistani refugees on July 13 as the night also marked Laylat al-Qadr, one of the most important nights of the Muslim calendar.
Municipal police and police officers had asked the Pakistani refugees to leave the streets and parks of Bodrum, prompting them to take shelter in the bazaar.
Maghaam Ardanvi, 37, one of the Pakistani refugees in Bodrum, who left Kuchlak, a town near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan after Taliban militant attacks, said he was working in stockbreeding.
“I sold my animals and came here. I gave money to bring me to Istanbul. We don’t have passports or IDs,” he said, adding that his aim was to reach Europe rather than stay in Turkey.
“The organizer who brought us to Istanbul did not take us to Europe. We worked illegally in Istanbul, but we were not paid wages. We came to Bodrum to try our last chances to reach Greece. We have been waiting for the people [who will organize the sailing to Greece] for a month,” said Ardanvi.
“We are after a new life with a job and meal. We don’t want to wait here without any food,” he added.
Erol Doğan, owner of a restaurant near the bazaar in Bodrum, said their support for the refugees was insufficient.
“I have worked as a shopkeeper here for 30 years, but I have never seen such tragedy. We help these people with food, but their number is increasing rapidly; our support is not enough. The state should intervene here and not leave the local shop owners all alone. These people will start stealing for food if they are not fed by the locals or get to Greece,” said Doğan.
He also said the police had picked up the refugees from the parks and brought them to the bazaar. “This is not a sustainable solution. The authorities should take urgent measures,” he added.