Turkey arrested 113 Iraqi Kurdish migrants at border with Europe in July: Official

The Turkish government during the month of July arrested 113 people from the Kurdistan Region who were attempting to cross its border with Europe illegally, an Iraqi official said on Monday.

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Kurdistan 24) – The Turkish government during the month of July arrested 113 people from the Kurdistan Region who were attempting to cross its border with Europe illegally, an Iraqi official said on Monday.

Turkey has been the corridor for many in Syria, the Kurdistan Region, and Iraq looking to illegally cross the border and seek asylum in Europe, especially following the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria in 2014.

“We were arrested on the road to Bulgaria. The border patrol stopped and beat us,” a Kurdish refugee from Erbil said, sharing his story with Kurdistan 24 in Istanbul. “They sent dogs after my friend and took everything we had with us.”

In the past years, many from the Kurdistan Region have tried to illegally migrate to Europe, in the belief they can secure a better life for themselves and their family. They pay large sums of money to smugglers on the Turkish border, and many die on the road.

“In short, smugglers first take money from us, promising safe and guaranteed passage to Europe, but then they force and threaten us somehow to go through the riskiest road, using small boats with no safety measures,” said another Kurdish refugee, describing it is a form of a human trafficking.

Amad Abdulrasul, a Kurdish Consul in the Embassy of Iraq in Istanbul, told Kurdistan 24 that in the past six months, they had released more than 1,000 Kurdish refugees in Turkish jails arrested for carrying fake visas.

“Once we ask them about their fraudulent Schengen or Canadian visas, they claim to have paid 5,000 euros to obtain them. Some paid 10,000 euros in Turkey to receive a fake Swedish or British passport. They get arrested in the airports and then sent to jails,” Abdulrasul said.

According to the Iraqi representative for refugees in Turkey, in July alone, 113 people from the Kurdistan Region have been arrested in Turkey for trying to travel to Europe illegally.

The Kurdistan Region is home to 1.8 million internally displaced persons and refugees who fled from Iraq and Syria due to the threat of IS attacks.

The major influx of the displaced people and refugees to the Kurdistan Region, coupled with the global drop in oil prices, the Region's federal budget share being cut by Baghdad, and the war against IS led to a critical financial crisis in the Kurdistan Region. People’s situation and standard of living worsened dramatically, pushing many to seek a better life in Europe and other countries.

Since 2014, hundreds of Kurdish refugees died in the Aegean Sea while attempting to enter Europe from Turkey.

 

Editing by G.H. Renaud

(Kamaran Haji Omar contributed to this report)