Research from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) once again reveals that the poorest cities in Turkey are in the Kurdish provinces in the east and southeast. Many people in Turkey accept this as normal, as the studies do not reveal any facts about the reasons for the poverty in the Kurdish cities.
Years of war have left the economy of the Kurdish majority cities in Turkey in tatters. Unemployment in the region is a key issue for which Kurdish residents have long been demanding a solution, and the main reason for high unemployment is prohibition from the highlands, which are a key source of livelihood for many residents with livestock.
Thousands of Kurds in eastern and south-eastern Turkey make their living from agriculture and livestock breeding, but soldiers have forbidden them from going up to the pastures and meadows in the mountains “for security reasons”.
Border trade is another main source of livelihood for residents of Van (Wan), Hakkari (Colemêrg), Ağrı (Agiri), Iğdır (Idir) and Şırnak (Şirnex). Not only have Kurds carrying goods to and from the borders frequently become targets for the Turkish army’s bullets in recent years, but the Turkish state’s introduction of new bans on border trade has further affected the lives of thousands of traders.
Lack of investment in industry in the region is another key factor listed by finance experts. The Turkish state and private contractors mainly fund military and security facilities such as police stations and security for dams rather than the manufacturing facilities that the Kurds living there have long been calling for.
The results of all this are also apparent from the studies of the TUIK.
In the institute’s “Regional Income and Living Conditions Research” results for 2020, the Kurdish provinces of east and southeast Turkey were at the bottom of the list for poverty.
The “lowest average annual disposable income” is in the Kurdish provinces of Van, Muş, Bitlis and Hakkari, and is revealed to be just 15,198 TL, according to the research,
Whilst the average annual disposable income in Turkey was calculated as 33,428 TL (Turkish lira) in 2020, the region with the highest average income was Istanbul with 49,239 TL. This region was followed by Western Anatolia with 38,022 liras and the Aegean with 35,785 liras.