Nine Afghan migrants, including women and children who were traveling from Iran to Europe, froze to death in the border region between Iran and Turkey.
According to media reports, this group of nine Afghan refugees was a part of a larger convoy which, after a long pursuit by Iranian border police, managed to cross Iran’s border and enter Turkey. They became lost in the mountains and valleys along the border, fell behind the main convoy, and lost their lives due to cold weather.
Increasing numbers of Afghans are fleeing the deteriorating economy, lack of security and political turmoil in their country, paying people smugglers to get them to Europe. The path is a long and dangerous one, involving arduous treks through border regions, where they are often caught and sent back to Afghanistan.
This incident happened in the Semdinli district of Turkey’s Hakkari province, in the southeastern part of the country. It tends to be unstable, with frequent clashes between the Turkish National Army and armed Kurdish militants, known as the PKK. The government does not have complete control over the mountains in that area.
On the night of November 7,, residents in a small village of Semdinli heard the cries of the refugees and came to their aid. While the villagers were trying to move the migrants to warmth and safety, nine of them died.
The bodies of these refugees were moved to the central city of the province and are temporarily buried there. According to Turkish policy, after the government receives the bodies, they will release information about the deceased on the Internet so that their families can proceed with reclaiming the bodies. If the families come for their loved ones, the government will release the body; if no one claims them, they will be buried in the same province where they died.