How many refugees' bodies are under the snow at the border?

In Van which borders with Eastern Kurdistan, refugee tragedies have increased in recent years.

In the last year, 50 refugees have died. Men and women who set out with the hope of a better life due to crises in the Middle East and Far Asia are the subjects of these tragedies. Hundreds of them are losing their life trying to cross the border of Van.

Refugees trying to cross the steep mountain in winter conditions, at air temperature many degrees below zero are victims of Iran and Turkey's refugee policy.

Çaldıran district of Van, which can reached -40 degrees in winter, is known as the transit point for refugees. In the district of Çaldıran, at the border with Iran, there is a police station and watchtowers every hundred meters. Despite intensive 'security' measures, both crossing and tragedies are tolerated because of the state officials accepting bribes by human traffickers.

Most of the refugees who are brought to the town of Çaldıran from Iran by human traffickers are left at the border to die. 

The latest incident was on 9 February 2019, when 10 refugees who tried to cross the border in the village of Sarıçimen in Çaldıran died. They were thought to be 7 Afghans and 3 Kurds. Their bodies have not been reached, although a month has passed. It turned out that state officials have not been working to find refugees to date. While most of the refugees who come to Van during the winter months live in the streets and parks, the rest struggle to get on with their life at Van Intercity Bus Station.

A citizen, who did not give his name for security reasons, tells ANF that a trafficker told him that there are hundreds of bodies at the border, under the snow. Although it is not possible to confirm this information, the size of the tragedy is visible.

The citizen said: "Human trafficking has become an industry. Everybody knows the traffickers here, even the state knows them.However, nobody does anything. There are so many security measures at the border, yet, how do these people cross the border? The state tolerates these crossing. Human traffickers abandon these people to death on the border after they have received their money from refugees. Refugees who are abandoned at the border often freeze to death because they do not know the way. No person who does not know the region can reach Çaldıran in winter by crossing the border. The traffickers take their money and leave these people to die."

According to human rights defenders, at least 37 refugees died in Van in 2019. 

In addition, in July 2019, when a vehicle carrying refugees had an accident, 17 people died and 50 were injured. Most recently, more than 30 refugees who were abandoned on the shore of Lake Van on 9 February were found half frozen.