Syrian refugee who lost entire family in fire says they were evicted from their previous home

Hussein Aljasem at the funeral of his family, Photo: DHA

Hussein Aljasem, a Syrian refugee who lost his six children, his wife and two nephews in a fire caused by a coal burning stove in the western Turkish province of Bursa on Tuesday, said their previous landlord had threatened his family and evicted them from their apartment, the Artı Gerçek news website reported.

Nine Syrians, eight of them children between the ages of one and 11, died in a fire that broke out on the second floor of a four-story building in Bursa. Aljasem was away from home when the blaze erupted and rushed back when a neighbor warned him about the fire. He was overcome by smoke while trying to battle the flames, suffered carbon monoxide poisoning and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

The victims were 31-year-old mother Amina Eltaha Elmuse; her six children, Yasir (1), Muhammed (3), Ahmed (4), Gerem (6), Merem (9) and Ali Aljasem (10); and nephews Ahmed (10) and Ali El Cesim (11).

Aljasem was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday and attended the funeral of his family members the same day. ”Our former landlord kicked us out of the house two months ago. We had radiators in our old apartment, and I used a coal stove for the first time in the new place. The day the fire broke out was the day we had installed the stove,” he said.

Aljasem said his deceased daughter Merem and son Ali were not going to school but worked in a textile factory and that he collected paper to support the family. Both of Aljasem’s deceased nephews, Ahmed and Ali, were going to start working at the same factory and were staying at Aljasem’s apartment since it was close to the workplace.

There is no one left of the Aljasem family but Hussein Aljasem.

According to Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) data, there were a total of 3,603,724 Syrian refugees in Turkey who had been granted temporary protection status as of November 3, with 185,309 of them living in Bursa.

Syria’s civil war, which began with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests in 2011, has killed nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.

Refugees in Turkey are frequently the target of discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes and are blamed for Turkey’s many social and economic problems. They frequently have difficulties in finding housing.

Syrian refugee children, who often cannot go to school in Turkey, usually work illegally for low wages in textile factories that export clothing mainly to Europe.

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