Migrant smuggling has become an increasing problem on Turkey’s southeastern border as traffickers force refugees to stay in barns and shacks in terrible conditions, the Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reported.
The border city of Van hosts undocumented asylum seekers from countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. According to MA, asylum seekers are brought to the city in vehicles and then made to wait for an indefinite period of time.
Smugglers do not give asylum seekers food but sell them bread and water at unreasonably high prices. In most cases young children also have to endure these conditions.
Residents of Van who have seen these people claim that although the police patrol their neighborhoods, they ignore what is going on between smugglers and asylum seekers.
Home to some 4 million refugees, Turkey is a hot spot for migration flows as it shares a border with several European countries. The city of Van is located near Turkey’s border with Iran and has been a major transit route for migrants coming from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia.
Last year a boat carrying asylum seekers sank in Lake Van, resulting in the death of 100 people. The year before, seven asylum seekers died on the same route. Turkish security forces have many checkpoints on the roads connecting Van to neighboring cities. As a result, migrants try to circumvent the checkpoints by crossing the lake by boat.
Mahmut Kaçan from the Van Bar Association said at a press briefing last year that authorities had failed to take any steps or turned a blind eye to migrant smugglers, thus paving the way for tragedy.