And suddenly, the mission was over before it even started. Four members of our team had been on the way to Erbil on 15th of March to deliver urgently needed medical support with our “Mobile Hospital” to the people in northern Iraq.
They were traveling, via Istanbul, to Erbil but the journey ended prematurely at the Turkish airport. They were detained and kept in custody for about 16 hours. They were searched and interrogated. All mobile phones were confiscated and evaluated. They were denied the right to a phone call, so were unable to communicate what was happening.
When we realized our team hadn’t arrived in Erbil we started searching for them – neither the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor the German consulate at Ankara had any information for us. “Endangering public security” was the official “reason” for deporting our team back to Berlin. “We were treated like criminals”, stated the team afterwards.
It is not new to us that the Turkish government is hindering humanitarian assistance in the region of northern Iraq, we have been experiencing this since 2014. But this is a new level of repression and arbitrariness we are facing right now. To not risk our project any further we waited until our “Mobile Hospital” trucks were out of reach of the Turkish customs before we started publicising the incident.
Since then, our team has arrived safe and sound at Erbil and is preparing the first mission of our “Mobile Hospital”. We are just waiting for the last official authorisation and then we will start treating our first patients.
Access to medical support should never be limited. To put political interests ahead of the needs of the most weak is inhuman.
Support us and donate, so that we can all work together on a constant supply of urgently needed medical support for the region.