Lake Van becomes the grave of refugees

Known for its natural beauty, Lake Van has recently been increasingly associated with the death of refugees. State forces are also involved in this, working together with traffickers and earning money from them.

In the province of Van on the border with Iran, dramas about refugees are constantly taking place. People on the run freeze to death in the border area, others die in traffic accidents in crowded vehicles. After the snow melts in spring, the bodies of frozen people appear. Finally, a boat manned with refugees has sunk in Lake Van. Due to the misery of people on the run, traffickers and state forces at the border earn money.

Van is the first port of call on Turkish territory for people who want to flee to Europe from the wars in the Middle East and Asia. On average between 1000 and 1500 people from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Central Asia come to Van every day. According to official figures, 40,180 migrants were picked up at the border in 2019. A far greater number fall into the hands of traffickers.

Lake Van as new trafficking route

Many stories of the refugees who come to Van and other cities of Northern Kurdistan end with a tragedy. Especially Lake Van, which is known for its history and natural beauty, has recently been increasingly associated with the death of refugees. These deaths are the result of the cooperation of state authorities with traffickers. The new trafficking route leads across Lake Van. In the past two years thousands of refugees have been brought across the lake to Bitlis. To date there are no government measures against this.

The state watches those dying

On 28 June a boat with up to a hundred refugees sank in the Lake Van. According to official reports, 55 to 60 people are said to have been on board. Although two weeks have already passed, the boat has not yet been found. So far the bodies of 13 people have been discovered.

This incident is not the first disaster to occur at Lake Van. On 26 December 2019, seven people were killed when a boat carrying refugees sank on its way to Bitlis. 64 people were rescued with the help of villagers from the surrounding area.

However, deaths are not only caused by shipping accidents. In the spring of 2019, the bodies of 26 frozen refugees were discovered Başkale. In Çaldıran 15 bodies were found in 2019 after the snowmelt. In Özalp a minibus transporting refugees overturned. 17 people died and 50 were injured. In a traffic accident in Saray 20 people were injured, the bus had transported 55 migrants. This year, 13 refugees, including ten people from Afghanistan and three from Kobanê, froze to death while crossing the border in Çaldıran.