“Gentlemen – I arrived at Samsun six days ago. No words are adequate to describe the situation in which I found the town and the unfortunate immigrants. Besides the Circassians (from 8,000 to 10,000) heaped up in the khans, the ruinous buildings, and stables of the city, upwards of 30,000 individuals, coming from the encampment at Irmak and Dervend, encumber the squares, obstruct the streets, invade enclosed grounds, penetrate everywhere, remain stationed there during the whole day, and retire only late after sunset. Everywhere you meet with the sick, the dying, and the dead; on the threshold of gates in front of shops, in the middle of streets, in the squares, in the gardens, at the foot of trees. Every dwelling, every corner of the streets, every spot occupied by the immigrants, has become a hotbed of infection. A warehouse on the sea-side, a few steps distant from the quarantine-office, hardly affording space enough for 30 persons, enclosed till the day before yesterday 207 individuals, all sick or dying. I undertook to empty this hotbed of pestilence. Even the porters refused to venture in the interior of this horrible hole, out of which, assisted by my worthy colleague Aly Effendy, I drew several corpses in a state of putrefaction. This fact may convey a faint idea of the deplorable state of the immigrants whom they have allowed to take up their abode in town. What I saw at Trebizond will not admit of comparison with the frightful spectacle which the town of Samsun exhibits.
The encampments present a picture hardly less revolting. From 40,000 to 50,000 individuals in the most absolute state of destitution, preyed upon by disease, decimated by death, are cast there without shelter, without bread, and without sepulture.
I found the Mutessarif dismayed, and altogether at a loss how to act in such an emergency. Atta Bey is without money and credit; he has not got enough to pay the men who remove the dead. In the market nothing is given him except for ready money, not even a few yards of longcloth for winding-sheets. There is no one to take care of the immigrants, no service organized for the burial of the dead, no horses, no carts, no boats, nothing.
I considered it essential at once to devise means to feed the immigrants, the greater number of whom had received nothing for several days. I had recourse to several corn-dealers, more especially to Mr. Serkiz Kirorkian. I put them in relation with the Mutessarif, and it is on the flour they supplied that we are living. Ismail Bey, whom I brought with me, takes care that 50 drachms of bread be given daily to each of the immigrants. I obtained, also, some Indian corn-flour, and it is out of these scanty means that we have been able to afford some relief to these 70,000 to 80,000 exiles.
My next care has been to organize a service for the removal of the dead. For this I had recourse to the chest of the quarantine office, wherein I found a few hundreds of piastres. I then took steps for the evacuation of the town, and the landing of the Circassians I had detained on board the 11 ships and the seven cutters lying in the harbour. All the 70 passengers were landed at Kumjuzah, a few miles distant from the town. To this place I sent 3,000 or 4,000 individuals I have during the last three days extracted from the dens they filled in the city. The evacuation is progressing, but the funds of the chest will soon have been exhausted.
The question which we have to deal with is absolute deficiency of money and of a police force. Government must make haste to send these pecuniary supplies, as well as a body of police, in order to avoid disturbances. There are at present here from 70,000 to 80,000 individuals without bread, and there is no one to keep them down in case of disorderly conduct. I wish it were possible that his Highness the Grand Vizier could come here and witness the spectacle which this ill-fated town and the encampments present.
I am fully aware that it is not easy for the Turkish Government to transport quickly elsewhere so large a population; but it is the Government alone that is able to come to the assistance of the Mutessarif, by sending him the sum necessary for the maintenance of the immigrants. With money the town and the Irmak will be evacuated; the immigrants may be kept in healthy camps either at Kumjuzah or Dervend; clothing, linen, soap will be readily purchased, supplies of provisions be secured. I once more repeat it, there are here between 70,000 and 80,000 immigrants. In a few days hence this number will be doubled. How is it expected that such a mass of men should be kept in order? How is it to be fed and provided for? This immigration thus left to itself is an actual calamity.
There are in the harbour from 10 to 20 large vessels, which I sought to employ in transporting about 10,000 Circassians to Bujuk Liman, at the mouth of the Bosphorus. Want of funds has obliged me to postpone their departure.
I conclude by stating that the Mutessarif is without any money. There are between 70,000 and 80,000 people needing their daily bread, and that if we had here an adequate supply of flour the number of ovens would be insufficient; we need biscuits. There are individuals who die from starvation, and the number of those who have been four days without receiving their rations is very large.”
The Sanitary Inspector on Service, Barozzi
Reproduced in ‘The Circassian Exodus’, The Times, June 13, 1864, page 10.