Over a thousand people have been ordered to evacuate their village despite the COVID-19 outbreak after Turkish officials decided to flood their homes using a newly built dam.
Residents in the village of Karakurt in the eastern Turkish province of Kars have reportedly been fighting the dam project for years.
However, they have been instructed to leave their homes during the virus outbreak and subsequent lockdown measures as most of their village will soon be flooded by the newly built dam.
One villager told local media: “The district governor told us ‘you have four days [to leave your homes]. We have to evacuate our houses otherwise we will be evicted by the police. What are we going to do?”
The village has a population of 150 households and around 1,600 residents as well as a 2,000-year-old church.
But it will all soon be underwater when it is flooded by the Karakurt Dam, one of the highest asphalt-core dams in the world, located on the Aras River.
According to local media, villagers have been battling the project since construction started in 2017, but to no avail.
Local activists have carried out numerous protests at the dam site and even went to parliament to discuss the issue with officials.
They were reportedly offered new homes which they rejected because the units were “in the middle of nowhere in a place without electricity and water”.
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the local authorities have now finally ordered them to leave their homes, according to reports.
Home owners have reportedly received the market value for their assets as compensation, but it is not enough to buy property in the surrounding towns as prices are expected to rise in response to the influx of new residents.
Villager Yavuz Ejder said he was given 22,000 TRY (2,560 GBP) for his workplace which “is not enough to buy a door and a window” in new premises in surrounding towns.
He added: “We have given so much in taxes, we have completed our military service, is this what we deserve as citizens?”
Another resident said: “On top of all this, we are dealing with coronavirus. And they are telling us that ‘commandos will come and evict you’.
“We have no money, we have no house, plus there is pandemic, where should we go to?”
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