Documentary Photography

The Dull Sound of Bombing

At the border I meet a photojournalist. He’s rough looking, missing a few teeth and wearing bulletproof gear. He looks at my thin leather jacket and then my blue eyes.
“You don’t have any combat gear? Anything warmer than that?” He asks me with a British accent. I don’t.
“Go with your gut-feeling mate, if you feel scared, turn away. And good luck!”
Right now I’m about to do exactly that. Just turn away and go back to where I came from. Someplace safe.

It’s a five kilometres walk through concrete and barbed wire from Turkey to Syria. Green grass grows on both sides of the road. There’s a mosque, a graveyard and then a few red signs warning trespassers of mines.
In the other end a big, newly printed banner welcomes me to a Free Syria. The empty frame where Bashar al-Assad used to greet visitors from now hangs empty. Someone is yet to fill this gap.
The new bureaucrats are young. Laughingly they throw passports back and forth between the desks and I get my stamp. Right across the border a mini version of a village has been erected by the use of white plastic tents donated by charities. Roughly 6000 people live here.

First stop is the Free Syrian Army’s media centre. Six men hang around, watching European football on a flat-screen television. My passport as well as press card are photocopied, we have tea, they ask me a few question, assign me a press officer and then we are off.

The camp is drenched. Even though there is only a limited number of tents for the many families, many of them stands empty due to flooding. It has been pouring for the last three days and today is the first with a bit of sun. All over clothes hangs to dry and small barriers of sand lies in front of each to try and keep some of the water out.
The refugees in this camp come mostly from the rural area around Aleppo. These people were not rich before the uprising and don’t have a passport. Without passport there’s no access to Turkey. The kids are in sandals and their clothes are drenched. Smilingly they run after me and throw me the V-sign every time I raise the camera. This is hard.

A few hours later the sun begins to set. I decide to head back to Turkey, hoping that re-entry won’t be a problem. As the sun throws its last long shadows and the Turkish half moon shows in the distance, a deep rolling thunder sends me on my way. Even though I’ve never heard real bombs go off before, there’s no doubt in my mind. This is real. This is war…

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