LOCAL MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh witnessed first hand the humanitarian efforts to support the Syrian refugees who fled to Turkey when she travelled near to the Turkey-Syria border last week.
Accompanied by Stephen Gethins, North-East Fife MP, she visited Gaziantep and Nizip near the border to see refugee camps and hear first hand the stories of those affected by the conflict.
The Ochil and South Perthshire MP also met United Nations officials, NGOs and local officials to develop a personal understanding of the crisis and to see how Scotland and the UK can better help the Turkish Government and the international community.
The SNP representative said: “In the camp at Nizip, I heard heart-breaking stories of families uprooted by violence, who want nothing more than to return, but whose homes have either been reduced to rubble by air strikes ordered by President Assad, or by Daesh attacks.
“These people are desperate for peace and nothing more than the opportunity to return to rebuild their lives in Syria.
“The Turkish Government are undertaking a massive effort to take care of the basic needs of their ‘guests’, which is how they are referred to there, but this should only be a temporary measure for the majority of the refugees.
“We need to work towards building a long term solution to this issue, rather than simply a short term military campaign.
“The magnitude of this issue is staggering, but the tragic stories we heard first hand from these brave men and women have also made a huge impact on us both.
“It is important to discuss the numbers, but we must remember too the human stories behind these figures that underscore the devastating impact on families forced to flee their homes.”
The Nizip camp is currently home to 5000 people, half of whom are children, who fled the conflict in their country. To house each family, around six people, the camp uses 7m by 3m converted shipping containers and there is also a market, a library, a laundry and school facilities from nursery to secondary school.
Each person receives 85 Turkish Lira per month – around £19 – to buy food and supplies. They also receive social aid and healthcare.
The delegation visited Mohammed Tomuk and Salwa Yusuf, who came to the camp from Northern Syria.
Mohammed was a pilot in the Syrian Air Force and fled with his family after he was told to take part in bombing raids on civilian targets.
His wife, Salwa, used to be a writer. She told the MPs: “We are not numbers.
“We are not animals.
“We want to be human beings, not numbers on a page.
“I am not a woman after this.
“I have no dreams.
“I just want to go home, but Daesh are occupying my home now.
“My life stopped five years ago. I am like any mother, I want my children to have an education. I want my son to finish his studies. I want a normal life.
“I am a writer. But I haven’t words anymore.”