As Refugees Flood Turkey, Asylum System Nears Breakdown


The two young men from the Ivory Coast have had one lucky break: A man from Senegal is letting them sleep nights on the floor of a basement he shares with 10 other Africans in the Kumkapi district under the crumbling Byzantine-era city wall, where migrants from all corners of the world wash up at the edge of Europe.

But with the basement locked in the daytime, their waking hours are spent wandering the back streets of Kumkapi in a daze of bewilderment and hunger.

“We don’t know anyone and we don’t speak any Turkish,” Moussa, 28, a car mechanic from Abidjan, said last week. “We can’t just walk up to a stranger and ask for help.”

Although they are refugees from the latest spate of political violence in the Ivory Coast, it has not occurred to the men to apply for asylum here. (more on