emre caylak

Muhammed, a people smuggler, and his safe house
Location: Dnipro, Ukraine
Nationality: Turkish
Biography: Emre is a photographer based in Istanbul working on social and environmental topics. His work has been published in various magazines and newspapers such as ”The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Der Spiegel, Stern TV, The Village Voice, The... MORE
Public Story
Muhammed, a people smuggler, and his safe house
Copyright emre caylak 2022
Updated Sep 2021
Topics Afghanistan, Ethnic minorities, Journalism, mass displacement, Migration, Photography, Photojournalism, Politics, Reporting, Taliban, Turkey, Undocumented, Van, War and its effects
Thousands of people have been displaced in Afghanistan due to the US pullout and subsequent Taliban takeover, with the UN warning that as many as half a million could try to flee before the end of the year.

Before the fall of Kabul, between 1,000 and 2,000 Afghans, a day were thought to be arriving in Turkey, thought of as the gateway to Europe. The route takes as long as three months via Iran or Iran and Pakistan often by foot. Some die from the harsh conditions, others are robbed on the way or beaten by border guards, yet a few make it into Turkey.

Mohammed, 21, an undocumented Afghan himself, is a people smuggler who helps Afghans enter Turkey near the city of Van in the east.

I followed him as he uses fake documents to try to buy travel tickets to transport a newly arrived family to western Turkey also spoke to one of the families he is helping to smuggle about why they fled Afghanistan and what life was like under the Taliban.

Many of the migrants who arrive in Turkey are keen to move onto Europe. I also visited a house in Istanbul where 12 undocumented Afghan men live to speak about why they don’t want to stay in Turkey – they are scared they will be caught by police and sent home.

Turkey 2021


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