Estimates that 953,680 - 1,201,200 people were displaced between 1986-2005 (2012)
IDMC Note on figures: The quantitative findings of the Hacettepe Survey commissioned by government is publicly released on 7 December 2006, and estimate that 953,680- 1,201,200 people were displaced by conflict in the south east between 1986-2005. Click here for more information on how the survey was carried out.
Permanent Mission of Turkey to the UN, 17 September 2009:
The RVRP has been implemented in 14 Eastern and Southeastern provinces, namely Adýyaman,Aðrý, Batman, Bingöl, Bitlis, Diyarbakýr, Elazýð, Hakkari, Mardin, Mus, Siirt, Sýrnak, Tunceli, Van. As of July 2009, the offices of the Governors in the aforementioned 14 provinces reported that 151,469 citizens from 25,001 households returned to their former places of residence.
Official figure: 355,807 (end August 2005) Permanent Mission of Turkey to the UN, 27 September 2005:
"The official number of IDPs as of the end of August 2005 is 355, 807. Of these, 127,050 have returned under the Return to Village and Rehabilitation Project"
Ayata Bilgin and Yukseker, Deniz, December 2005:
The "official" numbers were based on the 1990 general population census figures for villages and hamlets whose residents were subsequently completely evicted. NGOs, on the other hand, consider as forced migrants all people forced or compelled to leave their homes because of feelings of insecurity, armed clashes, military imposed food embargoes as well as threats by the security forces, the PKK and government-employed village guards
HRW, March 2005, pp. 14-17:
"Nobody knows for sure how many people were displaced in the 1990s. in 1998, the governor of the south eastern provinces—then under state of emergency—stated that 378,335 villagers had been displaced from 820 villages and 2,345 smaller settlements. [.] The Turkish government rounded this down to 350,000 in the figures supplied to the European Commission for the 2004 Regular Report. The U.S. State Department report for 1998 considered 560,000 a credible estimate. [...] The Diyarbakir Bar Association suggests that as many as two million may have been displaced. [...] At any rate, the estimate of 377,882 derived from provincial displacement figures is almost certainly too low. In almost every case, inhabitants of villages and village muhtars interviewed by Human Rights gave a much higher figure for the number of inhabitants at the time of displacement than was indicated in the government list. [...] The following are some examples of such discrepancies:
- The Hacetteppe University was commissioned by the Turkish government in 2005 to provide quantative and qualitative data on displaced. The findings of the survey were publicly released in December 2006, reported that 953,680-1,201,200 were displaced by conflict between 1986-2005. This only accounts for conflict enduced displacement. Further to this counter-insurgency operations in south-eastern Turkey continue to entail minor displacement: the lastest such operations in south-eastern province of Hakkari in mid 2012 displaced several hundred many of whom reportedly temporary. Communities along the Syria and Iraqi border with Turkey are potentially at risk of displacement subject to development of conflict within these respective countries.
- The results of the survey nearly 6 years after its publication, however are yet to be clearly endorsed by all relevant Turkish government institutions. In Conference on Van Action Plan held in May 2009, representative of the General Directorate underlined operational figure of 350,000. According to latest official statistics collected in the 14 provinces in which the RVRP is implemented, as of July 2009 an estimated 151,469 people had returned to their places of origin. This is identical to figures dated 2007. The figures closely similar to that of the survey in 2006 which had determined 120,000 returnees.
- The scale of displacement in Turkey was prior to the survey extremely controversial. HRW has revealed inconsistencies in the manner at which figures were defined. Previous reports indicated range from 378,000 as the official government figure and 1 to 4 million IDPs according to various NGOs. It has been stated that the official figure of 378,000 displaced persons includes only those displaced as a result of village and hamlets evacuations. The Council of Europe and US Department of State has cited "independent credible" estimates at 1 million in its report yet underlined that the figures concerning displacement are subject to controversy.
- Other related displacement includes displacement related to natural disaster and development related. The latest disaster related figure is with reference to Van earthquake of 2011 which displaced an estimated 50,000 persons, many of whom are still in situations of displacement. There are no clear figures of those displaced due to development related situations. Several dam projects in south-eastern Turkey have been controversial entailing risks of displacement of entire communities, as have urban development projects in which persons with lack of security of tenancy, such as the Roma, are most at risk.
….. Other examples of villages that were forcibly evacuated but which do not appear on the list include: Erenkoy village, near Eruh in siirt province, where there were approximately one hundred households prior to displacement, and Colko'y village, near Eruh in Siirt province, where there were approximately fifty households prior to displacement. Both villages are now reportedly occupied by village guards. [...] The failure to correctly record settlements on government records as having been evacuated was identified as a problem as early as 1998. …. Some villages are recorded as having had no inhabitants at all prior to displacement. In the case of Siirt province, the underrecording of the original population seriously distorts the picture for the province as a whole. Siirt suffered heavy displacement. Local sources indicate that the rate of permanent return has been low. Yet according to the government figures, 53.36 percent of the inhabitants have returned. The illusion of a respectable return rate derives from inaccurate government statistics. …. When this error is discounted, the average return rate for Siirt falls to 29.76 percent even before other patterns of inaccuracy noted in this evaluation are taken into account.”
US DOS, 25 February 2004, Sect.2d:
"During the height of the PKK conflict from 1984 to 1990, the Government forcibly displaced a large number of residents from villages in the southeast. Many others left the region on their own. The Government reported that 378,000 residents 'migrated' from the southeast during the conflict, with many others departing before the fighting. Various NGOs estimated that there were from 1 to 3 million IDPs."
HRW, 30 October 2002:
"Estimates of the numbers of displaced people vary widely. some government officials deny that any people in Turkey are internally displaced. some local nongovernmental organizations put the number of displaced persons as high as three million. In its human rights report for 2000, the U.S. Department of State said that 'credible estimates' of internally displaced people in Turkey range as high as one million. By year's end, the government appeared not to have updated its official figure for 'evacuated persons' of about 336,000 at the end of 1999.
COE, 22 March 2002:
"There is no official statistics on the total number of Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin living in Turkey. (The last population census in Turkey was carried out in 1997…). … According to the 1997 population census approximately 8 million people lived in the provinces under emergency rule [and…] round 7 million Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin live outside this area (including over 1 million in istanbul). These two figures correspond to a widely accepted estimate of 15-16 million Turks of Kurdish origin constituting up to 26 % of the total population living in Turkey. Figures concerning the displacement are much more subject to controversy. Turkish authorities' official figure for 'evacuated persons' amounts to 378 000 originating from 3 165 villages at the end of 1999 ….. The independent sources claim that the official figure of 378 000 displaced persons includes only those displaced as a result of village and hamlets evacuations. it does not include those who have felt compelled to flee, for example, because of the conflict with 'the village guards' even if the village itself had not been evacuated."
- Caliskan village in Gercus, Batman province, is recorded in the government list with twenty-two households prior to displacement, whereas local sources assert that there were one hundred and forty households.[.]63
- Dereli village in Gercus, Batman province. According to the government list: twenty-two households; according to local sources: one hundred and forty households.
- Gunduz village in Kozluk, Batman province. According to the government list: eighteen households; according to local sources: forty-six households.
Back to top
Government of Turkey, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations, Geneva (GoT/UN Mission), 17 September 2009, Information note on the IDP issue in Turkey, provided to NRC/IDMC, Government of Turkey,
Government of Turkey, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations, Geneva (GoT/UN Mission), 27 September 2005, Information note on the IDP issue in Turkey, provided to NRC/Global IDP Project
Information displayed on this page consists of excerpts of external reports and thus does not necessarily reflect the views of the IDMC. All excerpts are sourced. Links to online versions of the original documents are provided where available. The headline and bullet point summary at the top of the page are added by the IDMC. Other text added by the IDMC is in bold italics.