250 Yazidis en route to Bulgaria sent back to Turkey’s southeast

250 Yazidis en route to Bulgaria sent back to Turkey’s southeast

EDİRNE – Doğan News Agency
250 Yazidis en route to Bulgaria sent back to Turkey’s southeast

CİHAN photo

Around 250 Yazidis who left a refugee camp in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır to go to Bulgaria have been sent to a camp in Mardin, another southeastern province, after they were caught close to a border gate in the country’s northwest.

The 250 had fled Sinjar in northern Iraq after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces launched an attack in August 2014, were caught five kilometers away from Turkey’s border with Bulgaria in Edirne late June 27.

The group left the refugee camp, which was set up by the Diyarbakır Metropolitan Mu-nicipality, to reach Bulgaria, on the other side of the country, after they claimed that Bul-garia was aware of their situation and would allow them entry.

The 25-hour-long journey to Edirne from Diyarbakır started after more than 450 Yazidis left the camp in Diyarbakır to go to the Kapıkule boarder gate in Edirne. 

Officials from Diyarbakır Municipality and the camp attempted to convince the Yazidis to return to their camps as officers from the Bulgarian Embassy and the UNHCR had told them that the claims were not true, but to no avail. While the gendarmerie prevented some of the buses departing Diyarbakır, five buses carrying around 250 Yazidis found their way out of the city and eventually reached Edirne.

The gendarmerie stopped the 250 Yazidis just five kilometers from the Kapıkule board gate and tried to convince them to return back. 

The Yazidis started a sit-in on the roadside and refused to return to Diyarbakır. 

Edirne Gov. Dursun Ali Şahin came to the area and convinced them to go to a refugee camp in the southeastern province of Mardin’s Nusaybin district, which is controlled by the Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). 

“The [prime] ministry has been contacted; they will go to the camp in Mardin Nusaybin. There is no need to say much,” said Şahin. 

“They do not have passports, they have nothing. Where will they go? How will they make their voices heard? This is not the way to make your voice heard,” added Şahin, asking me-dia members to leave the area to facilitate the work. 

The group of 250 Yazidis were convinced after a five-hour sit-in, during which lunch box-es were distributed, and set off to go to Mardin early June 28. 

Around 30,000 Yazidis fled their hometown for Turkey after ISIL attacked them in August 2014, killing many men and taking many women as sex slaves. While Turkey placed some of the Yezidis into AFAD’s refugee camps, others moved to camps under the direction of mu-nicipalities. Around 20,000 Yazidis have left Turkey either for Europe or other places in Iraq, while 10,000 are still living in Turkey.