Najibullah sleeps in an apartment managed by people smugglers in Zeytinburno, an Istanbul neighbourhood that resembles a little Kabul. So many Afghans live there that shop signs are in Dari and tailors can make a traditional shalwar kameez.
The apartment is fit for a small family, but demand is high in the people smuggling trade. He shares the apartment with 30 other men, sleeping side by side on the floor. By day, they trade tales of bad luck and bad choices. “There is no war here, they admit, but look how we live.”
All these men are in transit. They have been unable to establish a life in Turkey and nor can they go back, so they have little choice but to push north to Europe. Since Ankara cut a deal with Brussels, they know it is likely they will be deported. They have heard stories of destitute Afghan men selling sex in parks in Athens and Berlin. Others live in squalid warehouses and abandoned factories in Serbia. Some have been beaten and
teargassed by the police, captured at the border and kicked back south.
Istanbul, September 2016