The artist living in the container city in Kilis

Oncupinar Refugee Camp in Kilis is like a huge container city right on the border with Syria

Photo by: TRT WORLD
Photo by: TRT WORLD

Salim at work on his painting

Updated Oct 12, 2015

It has two mosques, three schools, social centres, shops, sports facilities and children’s play areas.

It’s received rave reviews from some parts of the international media – and has boasted of a visit by Angelina Jolie.

The camp is proud of the visit by Angelina Jolie [TRT World]

And everyone lives in a container. The government-run camp used to be full to capacity with 15,000 people.

Now its down to 11,000.  But the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority has spent the past six months increasing the amount of accommodation.

That means it will be able to take up to 25,000 in the future.

In amongst all those thousands of people, you can meet all kinds of characters – including people like Salim Salim.

We were waiting to interview Mohammed Haju, who also features in the report on this page, when we went to wait inside nearby social centre.

There we found Salim, who seemed to be using one of the rooms as a studio. His work was stunning.

He comes from Jisr Al Shughur and spent most of his life as an artist, teacher and photographer – taking pictures at weddings.

But four months ago, he’d finally had enough of the war in Syria, and decided to leave with his wife and seven children.

“I’m no use to either side, Daesh or Assad,” he told me. “I’m not a soldier. I can’t use a gun. If I stay they’ll make me carry a gun.”

He now spends his time teaching art to children, and still painting in his spare time.

When we found him, he was painting a portrait of a woman he knew of in Syria who had been killed in the war. He was using a photo of her on his computer to help him.

He thinks the fighting will stop if foreign powers want it to.

“Europe and the US should force Assad from office. It’s the only way,” he said.

Inside Oncupinar Refugee Camp [TRT World]

Author: Andrew Hopkins