The New York Times Magazine headline read “How to Build a Perfect Refugee Camp” in Feb. 2014. The gleaming containers that served as shelters in the Kilis camp in Turkey were touted as the solution to the refugee problem, about which the NYT gushed “how little it resembles the refugee camp of our imagination.”
As we entered, my translator, Ahmad Ajouz, himself a Syrian refugee who lives in an apartment in nearby Gaziantep, said to no one in particular, “It’s so clean.” Turkish workers, hunting for litter to sweep from the meticulously laid, brand-new brick paths, were merely doing maintenance between rounds of street-washing trucks. Suddenly, one of these appeared, spraying down and scrubbing the avenues.
There were other luxuries. Power lines, and at least as many streetlights as you would find in a nice suburban neighborhood. Multiple playgrounds that look like McDonald’s PlayPlaces. Containers housing maintenance men who can fix electric or plumbing problems. Fire hydrants.
Donald Trump’s answer to the Syrian refugee problem is to create “a big beautiful safe zone” in Syria. It doesn’t work.
The glistening settlement of container homes, built to high specifications and ready to house 12,000 people in the no man’s land between Turkey and Syria, was due to have been opened by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish prime minister, on Saturday. The ceremony was cancelled, however, amid the deteriorating security situation on either side of the border.
Islamic State, which controls a parcel of Syrian territory 15 miles to the southeast of Kilis, launched a blistering assault into a neighbouring area held by moderate rebel forces on Thursday, destroying much of a refugee camp housing 7,000 people close to the village of Igde.
Despite continuing claims to the contrary, ISIS is not dead or in full retreat. Here’s what happens when you create an inviting target filled with civilians.
Syrians in the town said that living conditions had become harder since the introduction of a compulsory travel permit that one said had turned Kilis into a big prison.
A big prison. Not a safe zone.
The only solution to this problem is to do what Ted Cruz has beat like a drum: Utterly and completely destroy ISIS. It’s not about taking oil or getting ISIS to fear us. They don’t care about human life; we do.