Turkish gendarmes discover 2 refugees frozen to death at Iranian border

Turkish gendarmes over the weekend discovered the bodies of two refugees who appeared to have frozen to death at Turkey’s border with Iran, the Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reported.

The bodies belonged to an Afghan woman and a man whose nationality could not be determined. The woman’s body was carried to the Iranian side of the border by the Turkish officers and left there.

Refugees have continued crossing Turkey’s eastern border despite freezing temperatures. An Afghan woman froze to death at the Turkish-Iranian border on January 1. The woman had given her clothes to her two children in an attempt to keep them warm.

Photographs of the woman revealed her feet to be wrapped in plastic bags, and the hands of the surviving children covered with their mother’s socks.

According to Turkish media, at least eight migrants have died at the eastern border in the last two months. A recent report by the European Council of Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) said many migrants were often abandoned by human smugglers in the middle of nowhere and that many died alone in the mountains.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said Turkey had constructed a 220 kilometer wall on the Iranian border and that an additional 241 kilometers would be built in the near future. However, the wall has been relatively ineffective in preventing irregular arrivals. According to Directorate General of Migration and Management (DGMM) statistics, Afghanistan was the top nationality of persons detained by Turkish authorities for irregular migration in 2020, with 50,161 out of a total of 122,302 detained.

Soylu said as of September 2021,  2.327 million irregular migrants were denied entry at Turkey’s eastern and southern borders, and 283,790 had been deported since 2016. In a statement last October, Human Rights Watch said Turkish authorities were violating international law by pushing back Afghan refugees to Iran.

Turkey hosts the world’s largest number of refugees, 3.7 million from Syria granted temporary protection status, and over 400,000 refugees and migrants from Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries.

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