Human trafficking is a big business in Kurdistan, the travel ban and continual state of chaos that the Kurdish region finds itself in are motivation enough for people to want to flee the “country”. Smuggling is a booming business and the men who facilitate these activities are always on hand. In terms of Iraqi Kurdistan (Bashur) the borders of Iran, Turkey and Syria all have potential for smuggling operations and have been used for such activities for a long time. Many Kurdish citizens, unable to obtain legal foreign citizenship due to the bureaucratic red tape of their own government as well as the host countries, opt to travel to European countries in this manner in an attempt to start a new life.

Recently, 5 individuals were discovered frozen to death on the Turkish border after 4 others were arrested by Turkish authorities post-crossing; one of the 4, a child, died in custody. The 5 who died from exposure to the elements on the Kurdish side of the border were a mother and her children. It appears they became trapped when the water levels rose for a border river after heavy rainfall. This combined with the elevation and mountainous terrain creates an extremely harsh environment. Their presence became known after the 4 others were captured in Turkey and the authorities contacted the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government).

Their bodies were recovered by Peshmerga under the guidance of local villagers and transported to Soran Hospital in Erbil. Spokesman for the Soran police, Hawar Agoshi, stated, “They do not have any IDs or documents to know where they are from, but according to the information obtained by us they are Arabs, but we are not sure if they are Syrian Arabs or Iraqi.” When the search party arrived in the territory, Turkish soldiers were on hand to inform them they had arrested the other 4 people. According to the survivors, they had come from Fallujah, Iraq initially and were attempting to reach Europe as refugees.

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