Serkan Alan / DUVAR
More than a thousand truckers are currently stranded at the closed Iranian borders with Turkey and Turkmenistan due to the spread of the coronavirus, which has claimed the second-highest death toll in Iran out of the 70 countries in which it has been detected.
“We are in a quarantine inside a park, and it is forbidden to leave. There is one market inside the park in which we can shop. We don't know how long this situation will last and we cannot maintain proper contact with our families. There is no one among us who is sick, we are healthy but if they abandon us we will all get sick. At the moment we are in a situation where we have been left to die. We have demanded everything from the authorities but they have not shown interest. Are they waiting for us to die?” said Turkish trucker Ferit Yüce, who has been transporting cargo internationally for two years.
For fifteen days, hundreds of the truckers have been stuck in the Iranian town of Lotfabad, which is in the northeastern corner of the country near the border with Turkmenistan.
“We can't reach anyone and the officials from the consulate aren't coming to help. We need to pass through to Turkmenistan,” Yüce said, adding that the place in which they are being forced to wait is not hygienic and that their families are worried.
“We are afraid of getting sick. If we continue to wait here we will become psychologically ill. We cannot speak or communicate with one another, and we can't leave the trucks. The authorities need to either allow us permission to cross the border or bring us back to Turkey,” Yüce said.
“There are 800 truckers on Iran's border with Turkmenistan and 400 on the border with Turkey. The main problem is in Turkmenistan. They have been waiting in a park for fifteen days and are crying out. They say that no one is hearing them or paying attention to them. We submitted a parliamentary question on this topic, and I met with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. They are aware of what is happening, and said they know that the truckers are in a very difficult situation,” said pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu.
“They said that they are trying to do what is necessary, that there is no good news regarding the situation on the Turkmenistan-Iranian border but that something could be done on the Turkish-Iranian border and that they won't have to wait there for much longer. Hundreds of people are continuing to be forced to wait in a terrible condition,” Gergerlioğlu said.