We use cookies for site personalization and analytics. You can opt out of third party cookies. More info in our privacy policy.   Got it

PHOTO ESSAY: Temporary lives in Kobane


In September, Islamic State (IS) forces launched a major attack against the Syrian border town of Kobane and its surrounding villages, aiming to conquer the city, which is a strategic point for the continuation of the war.

In order to escape from the atrocities of the IS militants, more than 200,000 Kurdish people living in and around Kobane have had to flee into Turkey, in particular to the Turkish border town of Suruc. In refugee camps and around the town, they are trying to build a temporary daily routine, while waiting for a victory.

Their everyday life involves endless hours inside the camps, monitoring Allied air strikes in Kobane from two hills overlooking the city and witnessing the funerals of fighters from the Kurdish YPG, whose bodies are transported from the battlefield in order to be buried in Suruc.

Until now, Kobane has remained unknown. Depending on how things progress, it will become either a symbol of freedom or a symbol of human greed.

Giannis Papanikos

Children of Kurdish refugees play with a plastic gun inside an abandoned gas station in the centre of Suruc. This Kurdish family, with four children, is one of many unable to find a tent in a refugee camp. Since the beginning of October, all the members of the family have been living in the gas station.

Giannis Papanikos

Kurdish refugees are inspected by the Turkish army, while watching the Allied air strikes in Kobane. Many Kurdish refugees walk the seven kilometres from Suruc to the Turkish-Syrian border in order to watch the Allied bombings.

Giannis Papanikos

Kurdish refugee children attend the funeral of YPG fighters who were killed in Kobane while fighting IS forces. Many of the Kurdish fighters who die in Kobane are transported to Suruc so that they can be buried in the place where their relatives are now living.

Giannis Papanikos

A Kurdish family has an afternoon sleep inside a tent, in a refugee camp in Suruc. In some cases, more than one family lives in the same tent.

Giannis Papanikos

A Kurdish refugee reads the news about the siege of Kobane on a hill overlooking the city, while the Allied air strikes are in progress. Kurdish refugees gather every day on two hills near the Turkish-Syrian border, located approximately two kilometres from Kobane.

Giannis Papanikos

Kurdish refugee children having an afternoon walk inside one of the biggest refugee camps in Suruc. The health and food needs of the refugees are mostly covered by NGOs and charity organizations. It is estimated that more than 200,000 Kurds have entered Turkey since the start of the siege of Kobane.

Giannis Papanikos

Kurdish refugee children swing from an electricity pylon outside a refugee camp in Suruc.

Giannis Papanikos

Kurdish women mourn during a funeral of Kurdish YPG fighters who died while fighting IS militants in Kobane. The families of YPG fighters being buried at this funeral couldn’t be traced, so were unable to attend.

Giannis Papanikos is a freelance photojournalist based in Greece. He is a staff photographer of the Greek agency Fos Photos. He has also worked with Sipa Press, NurPhoto and Demotix. His work has been published by The Guardian, Daily Mail, Wall Street Journal, Daily Signal, MSN, ABC News and others.


Help us produce more like this

Editor Portrait Patreon is a platform that enables us to offer more to our readership. With a new podcast, eBooks, tote bags and magazine subscriptions on offer, as well as early access to video and articles, we’re very excited about our Patreon! If you’re not on board yet then check it out here.

Support us »

Subscribe   Ethical Shop