Photographer: Claire Thomas
Title: The Wait: Afghan Refugees in Turkey
Location: Van, Turkey
Period: 08/2001 - 08/2021
Category: Spot News

As the Taliban rapidly seized control of region after region in Afghanistan this year, thousands of families fled the country in fear for their lives. Leaving everything behind, many traversed across Iran to reach eastern Turkey.

In August 2021, I visited Van, a Turkish city close to the border with Iran, where increasing numbers of refugees are passing through on their way to Istanbul and beyond in search of safety. There I met families living temporarily in a crowded and sparse conditions while they struggled to find a way to fund their journey onwards, in constant fear of arrest and deportation by the Turkish authorities.



Father of four Omid breaks down while telling the story of how his brother was killed by the Taliban a few months ago Omid and his family began receiving threats from the Taliban forcing them to flee the country and seek refuge in Turkey They now face a difficult and uncertain future in the Turkish town of Van near the Iranian border where they have little access to humanitarian aid or legal assistance and live in fear of arrest and deportation

A refugee from Afghanistan shows the cuts and scars on his hands after crossing the border fence between Turkey and Iran

Children sit in an unfurnished room in an apartment where two families - twelve people in total - live temporarily in the city of Van in eastern Turkey after recently fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan

Father of four Omid holds two of his children inside an unfurnished apartment in the town of Van in eastern Turkey where he and his family together with another family are staying temporarily br br Omid and his family left Afghanistan a month ago after his brother - who worked for the Afghan National Police - was killed by the Taliban Omid and his family then began receiving threats from the Taliban forcing them to flee the country and seek refuge in Turkey They now face a difficult and uncertain future in the Turkish town of Van near the Iranian border where they have little access to humanitarian aid or legal assistance and live in fear of arrest and deportation

Omid shows a photo on his phone of his brother who was recently killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan

Afghan refugees sit inside an unfurnished apartment in Van where they wait in hope of being able to find safety and better life elsewhere

Makeshift headstones in a mountainous Turkey-Iran border region mark the graves of refugees who perished in border areas and shipwrecks as they tried to flee to safety in Turkey

Garments that are traditional in Afghanistan and Pakistan are found in an area where refugees are known to hide out when they first enter Turkey near the town of Van

An Afghan girl sits on the floor inside an unfurnished apartment in Van after fleeing her home in Afghanistan as the Taliban seized control of the country

An Afghan man sits on the floor in an apartment in Van where he waits in fear of deportation back to Afghanistan

Four-year-old Subhan describes his memory of the journey from Afghanistan to Turkey via Iran which he says was very bumpy

Nafisa sits with her sons in an apartment in the city of Van in eastern Turkey Nafisa came of age during Taliban rule in the 1990s and doesn t have any hope that the next generation of fighters will be more moderate than the last