ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Saturday announced that it would offer assistance to return the bodies of Kurds recently drowned in the Aegean Sea, now in Turkey, to the Kurdistan Region.
At least 34 people, many of them from the Kurdistan Region, drowned on Wednesday in a failed attempt to seek refuge in Europe.
Kurda Yashar, the representative of the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR) in Turkey, said 14 of the victims are Kurds from the region’s Duhok Province. Other reports put the number of Kurds at 19.
Ari Jalal, the head of the IFIR, told local Kurdish media outlets that out of the 35 people on the boat, only one person was rescued.
The spokesperson of the KRG, Safeen Dizayee, later expressed condolences to the families of the victims in a public statement.
“Since the early hours of the incident, the Kurdistan Regional Government began a careful follow-up to the incident,” Dizayee said.
He stressed that the KRG is in constant contact with the responsible authorities in Turkey and is doing everything in its power to help return the bodies of the victims back to their home country.
Due to the war with the Islamic State (IS) and a years-long financial crisis in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, many Kurds have fled to Turkey to find an immigration corridor into Europe. However, a significant number of them have drowned while trying to cross the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece, often in makeshift boats ill-equipped to safely transport them.
In August, four members of the same Kurdish family also lost their lives in the Aegean Sea while attempting to cross over to Greece and seek asylum.
Editing by John J. Catherine