Story

Fleeing Terror, Finding Refuge

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In eastern Turkey, Paul Salopek leads his mule past the Karakuş royal tomb, built in the first century B.C. by one of the area’s many ruling states. When Syrians began to pour over the border 70 miles to the south, he and photographer John Stanmeyer drove down separately to report on the situation. Image by by John Stanmeyer/National Geographic.

What happens when you become a war refugee? You walk.

True, in order to save your life—for example, as militants assault your village—you might first speed away by whatever conveyance possible. In the family car. Or in your neighbor’s fruit truck. Aboard a stolen bus. Inside a cart pulled behind a tractor. But eventually: a border. And it is here that you must walk. Why? Because men in uniforms will demand to see your papers. What, no papers? (Did you leave them behind? Did you grab your child’s hand instead, in that last frantic moment of flight? Or perhaps you packed a bag with food, with money?) It doesn’t matter. Get out of your vehicle. Stand over there. Wait. Now, papers or no papers, your life as a refugee genuinely starts: on foot, in the attitude of powerlessness.

To read the full story in National Geographic click here.

Visit the Out of Eden Walk on National Geographic to follow the the Out of Eden Walk in real-time online.