34 people drown in Aegean Sea, many from Kurdistan Region

Search operations continue as Iraq's refugee office confirmed that 14 of the drowned victims are from the Kurdistan Region’s Duhok province.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – At least 34 people, many of them believed to be from the Kurdistan Region, drowned on Wednesday in the Aegean Sea in a failed attempt to seek refuge in Europe.

Kurda Yashar, the representative of the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR) in Turkey, confirmed on Thursday that the boat carrying 35 migrants capsized in Turkey’s Aegean coast.

“Turkish coast guards found the bodies of 15 of the drowned persons near Izmir,” Yashar stated.

The IFIR representative said 14 of the victims are Kurds from the Kurdistan Region’s Duhok Province. He added that the fate and identity of the others remain unknown.

Turkey police and coast guards continue their search and rescue operations in the area, Yashar noted.

Ari Jalal, Head of the IFIR, told local Kurdish media outlets that out of the 35 people on the boat, only one person was rescued.

“A majority of the people on the boat are from the Kurdistan Region,” Jalal said.  

Osman Dashtamri, a relative of one of the victims, told Kurdistan 24 seven of the drowned people belong to one family from the city of Zakho in Duhok.

Due to the Islamic State war and financial crisis in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, many Kurds have fled to Turkey to find a corridor into Europe. However, a significant amount has drowned in boats while trying to pass the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece.

In August 2018, four members of a Kurdish family lost their lives in the Aegean Sea, attempting to cross over to Greece and seek asylum.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany