Turkey is at a transition point for thousands of refugees and migrants. Many try to reach Europe by passing through Turkey. They mostly enter Turkey from eastern borders and they first try to reach İstanbul in order to enter European countries.
Most refugees travel across Turkey to have a better chance to live in western countries. According to YenidenTV’s report, the number of refugees who try to find secure land for their families by walking thousands of kilometres is increasing by the day.
We generally know nothing about Afghan, Iranian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi refugees, with the focus being on Syrian refugees who were used as a threat against Europe and mostly became the target of racist assaults in Turkey. Many of those refugees, mostly falling into hands of migrant smugglers, enter Turkey by passing the Van (Wan) border.
Afghan refugees are the second largest refugee population, after Syrian refugees, coming into Turkey. They mostly travel over Iran by food and enter Turkey from the Özalp and Saray districts of Van city of Turkey.
Van Bar Association Asylum and Immigration Commission member Mahmut Kaçan said, “The city is the first entrance point for refugees and migrants, especially those coming from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh for over thirty years”.
According to Kaçan, there are several checkpoints to catch refugees in the city. The security forces catch them and take them to a deporting centre. For that reason, refugees try to pass over the checkpoints in small boats. There is a significant increase in the number of refugees who died during travel. Turkey does not accept asylum applications anymore, so small boats are used to escape from control points. They first come from Tatwan when they pass Van lake, after which they reach Istanbul and finally enter Europe.
According to the information that residents of Van shared there was refugee and migrant traffic in the city for around 15 years, and security forces did nothing despite being were aware of the situation. Refugees pay smugglers 400 to 700 dollars each. According to Kadri Salaz, a human smuggling market formed in the city.
A refugee boat sank in Van Lake on 27 June and 61 people lost their lives. According to Kaçan, the suspects of the incident are still free and he added that Turkey enforces an impunity system for smugglers.
The city turned into a cemetery for refugees who lost their lives trying to pass the border and reach their destination. The bodies of refugees are buried in the city’s cemetery of the nameless.