Turkish officials convinced about 250 Yazidi refugees attempting to illegally cross into Bulgaria to go back to their refugee camp in Nusaybin district of Turkey’s southeastern province in Mardin on Saturday.
Five busses full of Yazidis took off from another southeastern province, Diyarbakir, on Friday to cross into Bulgaria, but were caught five kilometres from the border in the northwestern province of Edirne, which borders Bulgaria and Greece.
The Bulgarian Embassy and United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) both said the entry of Yazidis to Bulgaria would not be allowed.
The Yazidis who were caught first resisted returning to their camps or transfer to a facility in Edirne and started a sit-in demonstration. They were provided with food while the officials tried to persuade them to go back to the camps as security forces took measures around them.
Edirne Governor Dursun Ali Sahin, who personally took time to convince the Yazidis, said, “We have spoken to the ministry. They have no passports and the states have regulations. This is not good way of trying to be heard.”
It took five hours for Yazidis to be convinced.
In the meantime, another group who also left the camp to head to Bulgaria from a camp in Diyarbakir were stopped by the security forces.
Diyarbakir hosts 4,000 Yazidi refugees.
Despite the discussions with the Bulgarian Embassy and UNHCR, which notified such action would not be allowed, the group consisting of 450 Yazidis left their camps and headed to bus terminal in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir on Friday night with a rental minibus.
The refugees were stopped by security forces and were taken back to the camp.
Yazidis, however, refused to go back to the camp and continued to wait 150 metres outside of the camp.
Officials from Diyarbakir’s mayoral office were not able to convince the refugees to go back to the camps.
The refugees continue to insist on crossing the border to Bulgaria.