The gallant Circassians of Reyhanlı (Turkey) provide a haven for 750 Syrian Circassian refugees

Of the thousands of Syrian Circassians who have fled their adoptive country due to the raging brutal war in Syria, some 750 have found refuge amongst their kin in the Reyhanlı District of Hatay. The local Circassians of Reyhanlı, themselves numbering no more than 800, are working hard trying to cater for the needs of the refugees using their own means and resources.
“We are helping Circassians with the spirit of mobilization”
Reyhanlı Circassian Association President Uğur Pihava said that there are about 800 Circassians residing in Reyhanlı. “About 750 Circassians have fled the Syiran war and came to Reyhanlı. We held the first meeting of the Federation of Caucasian Associations (KAFFED) in Reyhanlı. We are helping Circassian refugees with the spirit of mobilization. We have managed to locate all of them in houses,” explained Pihava.
According to Circassian traditions, homeless people in distress, or those in need of accommodation or housing, are helped by the whole village or community, whereby all community members and their resources are mobilized for the purpose gratis. In the sch’ihexw (щІыхьэху) custom, a day of voluntary unpaid labour is devoted for house building, usually for families that cannot manage on their own. Weqwle (уэкъулэ) is an entreaty for (mutual) aid. It is in the spirit of these timeless traditions that the Circassians across the world are helping their hapless kin from Syria.
“The Turkish State didn’t help us with Circassians fleeing from the war”
Pihava added: “Seven families wanted to travel to Circassia to rejoin their relatives there. We sent them there with our own means and resources. The Russian government presented us with a number of obstacles in this respect. The Turkish State officials did nothing to help with the Circassian refugees. We had applied for aid with respect to our kin in distress. However, they responded that they give no aid to refugees residing outside of the official camps. We applied for education for the Circassian refugees in their mother tongue. However, our application was declined. We are teaching Circassian through our own means in the Association.”
Source: Nazim Daştan/Mehmet Siddik Damar, “Their kin own up to Circassian refugees”, DİHA – Dicle News Agency, 26 August 2014.
Photo: Reyhanlı Circassian Association President Uğur Pihava delivering a speech on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Circassian Tragedy, 21 May 2014, Reyhanlı, Turkey.
Circassian Culture and Folklore

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