Swimming for Refugees

Several hundred Yazidis who fled Islamic State in 2014 are still sheltering in southeastern Turkey, trapped between a ruined homeland and an arduous asylum process to reach the West. Many rely on handouts of food from sympathetic neighbors, who face their own financial constraints.

On Aug. 30, I will swim a 6.8 km race across the Dardanelles Strait and hope to use this as an opportunity to raise money for more than 150 people living in a camp, almost half of whom are children, in the village of Ugurca in Batman province. Together we can help cover most of the estimated $1500 it costs each month month to meet their basic needs - flour to make bread, rice, sugar, water.  All of the money will go directly to Ugurca's local administrator. I will make a Turkish bank transfer and post receipts of both the transfer and the receipts of the food he purchases.

I have reported on these refugees over the last four years, including four separate visits to camps near the border. I have remained in regular contact with local members and leaders of the community and have admired the work they do to help this often overlooked group of refugees.  

For more information about Yazidis in Turkey, you can read my recent reporting here: "Four years after genocide, thousands of Yazidis languish in Turkey.

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Ayla Jean Yackley 
Chicago, IL
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