Many earthquake victims and immigrant families are struggling to survive in the container city, which was established 12 years ago in Seyrantepe District due to the earthquake in Van in 2011 and the war in Syria in 2015. With the approach of winter, autumn rains left the container houses under water. Families called for solutions to the problems.
Following the two earthquakes that occurred in Van on October 23 and November 9, 2011, at the Erciş base, 644 people lost their lives, according to official figures. While thousands of buildings were demolished, tent cities and container houses were established in many places. Following the earthquake in the Seyrantepe District of Tuşba district, prefabricated houses were temporarily established by the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government. Prefabricated houses are unusable after 12 years. While the earthquake victims and immigrants living in the container city are having a hard time due to the rain, they are also worried about the rumors that the container city will be removed.
Inside the containers, rain-soaked carpets and mattresses are laid out on the walls to dry, while inside, wet clothes are being dried using an electric stove. Children are exposed to the smell of dampness because they cannot open their doors due to the cold.
‘We will be disgraced if the container city is removed’
Fatma İbiş, who has been living here for about 9 years and migrated from Afrin in 2015, is the mother of 5 children. She states that there was no dripping when it rained before, but there has been dripping for the last 2 years. İbiş said, “Dripping occurs due to prefabricated wear. Not only me, but everyone living here has the same problem as me. When we reported the problem to the municipality, they said ‘This place belongs to the Foundation and will be removed anyway’. If they remove this place, we will be even more disgraced. He reacts to the situation by saying, “The citizens of this place are given a house very easily, but they don’t give us a house.”
7 people stay in one room
Saying that prefabricated houses are not enough for them, İbiş expresses the problems they experience with the following words: “The room where the children stay gets completely wet. We have to bring them with us one night. We don’t know what we will do if this rain is removed from here on the one hand. This is not just our concern, but the concern of everyone living here. If this place is removed, it will be impossible to rent a house. We are 7 people staying in a room. “It’s very difficult to manage now.”
‘It’s hard to manage like this’
Merve Muhammed, a mother of 6 children, is also a Syrian immigrant. Muhammed, who has been living here for 5-6 years, said, “When it rains, water floods our houses. My children are young and it is difficult to manage with them this way. Our financial situation is bad, children go to school. We don’t know what to do. Our house was almost under water. Our clothes, our carpets were all wet. I’m trying to dry it in front of the stove. “It would be nice if they gave me a house, at least temporarily.
‘Prefabricated houses need to be renewed’
Xezna Muhammed Baz is a mother of 4 children and migrated from Kobani to Diyarbakır. Baz, who came to Van after the 7.7 magnitude earthquake that occurred on February 6, centered in Maraş, has been struggling with rain water for 2 days. Baz, whose carpets are wet, states that they laid out the bed in the rain last night. Baz says that they have jobs in Diyarbakır, but they cannot find a job to work here, and emphasizes that prefabricated houses need to be repaired or renewed.
Translator: Akif Coşkun