After Residents Leave Town Post-Earthquake, Refugees Remain Unsupported
Following a 7.2 magnitude earthquake near the town of Van in Turkey, Iranian refugees in the town are in dire condition. According to reports received by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, many refugees have lost their residences due to the earthquake and remain deprived of temporary housing as well. Fortunately none of the Iranian refugees have sustained serious physical injuries. Several refugees told the Campaign that they are not allowed to leave the town, and have ended up sleeping outside without tents or facilities. The Turkish government has asked its citizens to leave town or to live outside their homes for several weeks because of the emergency state and fear of more earthquakes. There has been news in the past 48 hours that refugees were granted permission to leave town for a short period and return afterwards.
“After the earthquake, the Turkish government announced a state of emergency for three weeks, saying that people should stay out of their homes. City residents with cars have left town or are living in tents outside their homes. Unfortunately, the refugees who have no facilities must stay outside in cold weather. We are not allowed to leave town, either,” Ali Nazari, an Iranian asylum seeker residing in Turkey told the Campaign.
“It is extremely cold here now and according to weather forecasts, it will start snowing the day after tomorrow, and we don’t know what to do. My friends and I who are all in one house keep going out and returning. Last night we stayed outside in the cold without tents. We haven’t slept for 24 hours,” he added.
“Unfortunately, because there is a high number of Iranian and Afghani asylum seekers in this town, I only know about people around me, and they are all fine; they have not been hurt. But several of them have lost their homes which are not inhabitable anymore,” he added.
“So far, most of the residents have left town, but we, the refugees, were not allowed to leave town. It was cold last night and everybody had a very hard time outside. Today (Monday), several people went to the UNHCR and were able to finally negotiate after several hours. They were able to get permission to leave town for a week, but no vehicles are available to refugees for exiting yet,” said Sahar Rezazadeh, a student refugee.
“Before the refugees showed up to UNHCR on Monday, nobody from UNHCR made any queries about the conditions of the refugees. They said the UNHCR office is closed for two to three weeks. I doubt they will provide any support. We don’t know what will happen next. We got permission to leave town for one week, but the Turkish government has announced a three-week state of emergency,” added Rezazadeh.