Turkey's deadly eastern border

From the Northern Kurdish province of Wan, there are always new reports of refugees who die at the Turkish border. In the past twelve months alone, 50 people seeking protection who froze to death while crossing the border have been registered.

On Sunday, 13 refugees were caught in a snow storm and lost their lives in the Van province in northern Kurdistan. These are, however, not isolated cases. Every day, hundreds of people trying to escape from wars and dictatorial regimes in the Middle East and Central Asia try to cross the Turkish-Iranian border that separates northern and eastern Kurdistan. Dozens of them freeze to death especially in the winter months in the high mountainous border region. In the past twelve months, 50 refugees who froze to death have been registered. The number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher, because due to the EU-funded expansion of the border fortifications, refugees have to switch to increasingly dangerous routes. But that's not all; in July 15 people were killed in an accident in Van in a minibus carrying refugees. A further 27 refugees were injured.

 30 refugees almost froze to death

More than 30 refugees who were abandoned on the lake shore in Van were found almost frozen. The refugees were to be taken from Van to Bitlis by boat but were abandoned in the countryside of Gevaş, on the shores of Lake Van. They were rescued after locals gave the alarm saying the had seen refugees amost frozen on the shore of the lake.

"Fatal Safety Measures"

Murat Melet of the Human Rights Association (IHD) describes the border near Van as one of the most dangerous. He defined the reason as the massive security precautions on the one hand to and the climatic and geographical conditions on the other.

According to Melet, hundreds of people seeking protection in the region have frozen to death in the last three years. "Their bodies often appear only after the snow has melted. It's no crime to be a refugee. But to disregard refugees and leave them to die is a crime against humanity. I invite all states to fulfil their duties and to respect the rights and human rights of refugees. The right to life is sacred."