Turkish gov’t declares 14 neighborhoods in Şırnak as ‘risk zones’

Turkish gov’t declares 14 neighborhoods in Şırnak as ‘risk zones’

Turkish gov’t declares 14 neighborhoods in Şırnak as ‘risk zones’ Turkey’s newly appointed government has declared 14 neighborhoods in the southeastern Anatolia region as “risk zones” after they sustained massive destruction during the continuing conflict between Turkey’s security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Two separate decisions by the cabinet declaring nine neighborhoods in Şırnak’s Cizre district and five neighborhoods in İdil district as “risky zones” was published in the Official Gazette on June 1 upon approval from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The decisions were made upon correspondence with the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry and in line with the Law on the Transformation of Areas at Risk of Disaster (Law No. 6306).

In April, delivering a speech at the Urban Transformation and Smart Cities Congress in Istanbul, Erdoğan said there were more than 6 million houses in Turkey that have to be demolished and rebuilt. He also said 179 areas in 48 provinces had been declared risk zones and included in the scope of urban transformation and that a total area of 3,778 hectares in 21 provinces had been designated as a reserve construction area. Erdoğan said 2 billion Turkish Liras had so far been utilized on urban transformation projects, including housing benefits.

The conflict with the PKK that has resulted in the deaths of at least 5,000 people since July 2015, has also destroyed at least 6,000 buildings that will cost close to 1 billion liras ($340 million) to rebuild, according to a government estimate. 

As fighting continued, the government of new Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said 6,320 buildings, or 11,000 dwellings, had been destroyed in five areas alone: Sur in Diyarbakır, Silopi, Cizre and İdil in Şırnak and Yüksekova in Hakkari. 

“We now face a process of planning reconstruction and repairing damaged houses,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said after a cabinet meeting on May 30. 

But Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat dismissed the reconstruction plans in ancient places like Sur and Cizre, where the “historic fabric had been wiped away.”

“They are deluding themselves and trying to cover up their crimes,” he told Reuters on May 31. “If they think they can win over the local people like this, they are wrong. The destruction of these towns has caused an emotional rupture.”

The HDP focuses on the Kurdish issue, while Fırat was one of the founding members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) before ultimately switching to the HDP.