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Syrian refugees in Istanbul sent from pillar to post

Over 200,000 Syrian refugees, most of them without legal papers, struggle to find shelter and work in Istanbul as winter sets in.
An elderly Syrian Alawite man sleeps in a tent at the courtyard of Pirsultan Abdal Cemevi in Istanbul October 11, 2013. As Syria's conflict takes on an increasingly sectarian dimension, a growing number of those fleeing to Turkey are shunning the refugee camps on its southern border and venturing instead to its major cities, as far from the war as possible. Picture taken October 11, 2013.    REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY - Tags: SOCIETY IMMIGRATION POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTX14L6V

ISTANBUL — I was at the cashier of our local grocery store, chatting with another customer as I waited for my change. Suddenly, a small hand at the end of a thin smudged arm pushed us apart to put a couple of coins on the counter. In return, the grocer took two cigarettes out of a pack and pushed them toward the hand without a word.

The hand belonged to a boy, half the size of my 11-year-old daughter. As I watched him place one cigarette behind an ear and light up the other, I could not help but exclaim, "My goodness, he is what? Five, six? And smoking already!”

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