Dozens of neighbourhoods and villages in Çatak, Bahçesaray, Özalp and Başkale districts of Turkey’s eastern city of Van, were damaged following heavy rainfall and flooding that has continued since 28th July.
The Governor’s office announced that 13 neighborhoods in Başkale were affected by the floods and 1500 sheep died along with dozens of destroyed houses.
Özalp was one of the worst-hit districts as a week after the floods, there are many homes which remain uninhabitable in the Paçxûliya Jorîn neighbourhood.
“After the flood, we have no place to even sit down in our home. They did not even give us tents. The authorities say, ‘Clean your homes and get in’. How can I clean this house full of mud?” Sevkiyat Pay, a Kurdish woman and a mother to seven told MA.
After evacuting their homes, many Kurdish citizens living in Paçxûliya Jorîn say that their homes have been filled with mud and they are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, especially relocation to safe and clean housing.
“The neighbourhood has been seriously harmed due to the flood, also economically. Some state authorities visited, but we have seen no support. People have been victimised. We pay our taxes, but we have no return of fulfilling our duties as citizens of this country,” said İbrahim Tül.
Alongside fellow neighbours, Tül demands urgent humanitarian aid to be sent to Van. “Many families who lost their homes have large families and they have sick people. The authorities should send us tents or transit homes. When there is a disaster, authorities should treat people equally and not treat them in a biased way based on their political views.”
Sernaz Tül also looks anxious as she tries to save her household things which are still usable. This is the second disaster she survived in Van.
“My home, which I re-built after the earthquake disaster, was completely submerged this time. We could not get our house back yet. I do not have the financial resources to repair my home again. I demand our damage be compensated or at least to have a place that we can be relocated to,” Tül said.
Van’s former co-mayor, Mustafa Avcı, who has been replaced by a trustee mayor appointed by the government, is also in the disaster area observing the damage.
“There is a difference between the actual damage and the damage announced by the authorities. All of Van should be declared a disaster zone. We cannot simply call this a natural disaster, because this also relates to the problems of the infrastructure. This situation is the outcome of wrong policies implemented based on profit,” Avcı said.
Avcı also drew attention to the financial losses of the people, who also lost their animals, on which they had been depending on to survive.
“2,500 sheep died in Başkale, but the authorities ask the citizens to show the deceased bodies of the animals to compensate their loss, how can these people find the bodies of their died animals?”
The elected mayor of the people also shared a controversial detail he heard from the citizens.
“If you are the voters of the HDP [Peoples’ Democratic Party], go tell your problems to the HDP; this is what some government authorities said to the people here. This is a disgrace. You cannot approach victims of a disaster based on their political choices.”