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Last Updated: 02 November 2012

Casualties and Victim Assistance

Casualties Overview

All known casualties by end 2011

6,360 (1,269 killed; 5,091 injured)

Casualties in 2011

59 (2009: 94)

2011 casualties by outcome

15 killed; 44 injured (22 killed; 72 injured)

2011 casualties by device type

43 undefined mine type; 9 victim-activated IED; 3 ERW; 4 unknown device

Monitor analysis of media reports collected by the Initiative for a Mine-Free Turkey (IMFT) identified at least 59 new casualties in 2011 due to mines/victim-activated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and explosive remnants of war (ERW) in Turkey.[1] Of the identified casualties,[2] 19 were civilians, including eight children, and the rest were security personnel. At least one individual from a non-state armed group (NSAG) was reported; the number of paramilitary “village guards” among casualties in 2011 was not recorded.[3]

Analysis of IMFT data identified at least 94 mine/ERW casualties in 2010, 95 in 2009[4] and 100 casualties for 2008.[5]

The government of Turkey reported 106 mine casualties (21 killed; 85 injured) for 2011. No details on military status, gender, or age were provided in the reporting.[6] This represented an increase from the 104 mine casualties Turkey reported for 2010 and from the 83 casualties in 2009,[7] but was still lower than the 158 mine casualties reported by Turkey for 2008.[8]

The total number of mine/IED and ERW casualties in Turkey is unknown. Turkey reported 4,189 mine/ERW casualties, including 855 people killed and 3,334 injured, as of the end of 2011.[9] However, according to a media report in April 2010, the Ministry of Internal Affairs had recorded 6,360 mine casualties since 1984; 1,269 people were killed (625 security personnel, 644 civilians) and another 5,091 people were injured (with the number of civilians compared to the security personnel injured not reported) in mine incidents.[10] In 2007, a demining specialist reported at least 10,000 mine casualties (mostly civilians) along the Turkish-Syrian border since the 1950s (more than 3,000 killed and 7,000 injured).[11]

Victim Assistance

Turkey is known to have landmine survivors and survivors of other types of ERW. As a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty, Turkey has made a commitment to implementing victim assistance.

By April 2010, at least 5,091 people were reported to have been injured by mines in Turkey since 1984.[12]

Victim assistance in 2011

No significant changes in the accessibility or quality of services were reported for 2011.[13] Mine/ERW survivors and persons with disabilities in affected areas did not have access to the same level of services as other persons with disabilities in larger cities in Turkey.[14]

IMFT initiated the first national mine survivors network in Turkey in 2011; survivor representatives began advocacy and peer support activities in Diyarbakır, Şanlıurfa and Mardin.[15]

Assessing victim assistance needs

No efforts to assess the needs of mine/ERW survivors in Turkey were reported in 2011. There was no system in place to collect data on mine survivors or their needs. The IMFT collected the most comprehensive information available through media scanning and cross checking with other organizations and local sources.

The office of the Prime Ministry Administration for Disabled People collected data on all persons with disabilities, but did not distinguish the cause of disability or mine/ERW survivors.[16] The European Commission (EC) continued to report that a lack of broader data and research on persons with disabilities remained a barrier to informed policymaking in Turkey.[17] The last major survey of persons with disabilities in Turkey was in made in 2002.[18]

The Diyarbakir Lawyer’s Bar Association collected information on mine/ERW casualties in the affected regions and continued to offer legal assistance to mine survivors who were eligible due to their financial circumstances.[19] The Human Rights Association collected records on survivors and casualties’ families who contacted the organization’s branches for assistance; information collected included needs.[20]

In February 2011, Ufuk Uras, one of the members of parliament for Istanbul, asked follow-up questions in parliament about the situation for mine/ERW survivors, including questions about what kind of health, social or economic assistance had been provided to mine victims and about the number of survivors had accessed that assistance.[21] By the time parliament halted sessions to prepare for an election, no response had been given and the time period for a response had expired.

In 2006, Turkey had reported that it was initiating a program of transition to an international injury classification system that would include mines and ERW.[22] No further progress on this transition was reported as of mid-2012.

Victim assistance coordination

Government coordinating body/focal point

The Administration for Disabled People was identified as a key government focal point for victim assistance in 2011

Coordinating mechanism(s)

None in 2011


None in 2011

In June 2011, a new government entity responsible for protecting persons with disabilities, the Disabled and Senior Citizens Directorate General, was formed under the Ministry of Family and Social Policies.[23] In April 2012, the IMFT visited the Minister of Family and Social Policy, Fatma Sahin, regarding the issues of rehabilitation, employment and education for mine survivors, and the activities of the new directorate. The IMFT presented the need for a national action plan, corresponding with the Cartagena Action Plan, for the implementation of victim assistance commitments under the Mine Ban Treaty. The Minister indicated that work on victim assistance should be implemented under the new directorate.[24]

The Administration for Disabled People, under the prime minister, was previously the central government body responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. The main functions of the administration were coordinating between national and international institutions, formulating disability policy to promote the full participation into society and equality of persons with disabilities, and defining and solving problems faced by persons with disabilities.[25] The opportunity for fulfilling a victim assistance focal point role was reportedly within the existing mandate of the Administration for Disabled People.[26] The administration was established in 1997; however, until 2011 it had not followed, and had not been aware of, victim assistance issues.[27]

Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 reporting on victim assistance is updated annually by Turkey, but only the reports on survivors who receive treatment at military medical facilities are updated. Article 7 (and Convention on Conventional Weapons Article 13) reporting did not include information on services available to civilian mine/ERW survivors at civilian facilities, or on survivors injured in previous years.[28] Turkey did not make statements on victim assistance at the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in 2011 or at the Mine Ban Treaty intersessional Standing Committee meetings in May 2012.

Survivor inclusion and participation

Survivors reported that they were not included in the planning or implementation of services relevant to their needs.[29] The Turkish mine/ERW Victims’ Network objectives were presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Administration for Disabled People at a meeting in Ankara in May 2011.[30]

Service accessibility and effectiveness

Victim assistance activities[31]

Name of organization

Type of organization

Type of activity

Changes in quality/coverage of service in 2011

Dicle University Research Hospital, Diyarbakir


Orthopedics and traumatology center and the prosthetic center provided civilian survivors with prostheses free of charge

Ongoing; the number of beneficiaries was unknown

Gulhane Military Medical Academy and the Turkish Armed Forces Rehabilitation and Care Center (TAF-RCC)


Specialized facilities assist people wounded by weapons with high quality services: rehabilitation, economic and social inclusion, and psychological support


IMFT/Turkish mine/ERW Survivor Network


Advocacy and assistance to individual survivors and peer support

Formed survivor network in 2011

All persons with disabilities have the right to access the free first-aid services at public and private healthcare centers. Those without social insurance can apply for a special “green card” to be eligible for what were previously free services in 2008. However, in practice those persons with disabilities eligible for the green card medical insurance still had to contribute to part of their medical expenses, eliminating the availability of free services.[32] Regulations in the Healthcare Application Notice, issued by the Social Security Organization of Turkey, restricted access to medicines, equipment, and mobility devices for persons with disabilities, even when deemed necessary by medical professionals.[33]

Healthcare facilities in towns in the mine-affected region (other than the largest cities) are underfunded, have inadequate staff levels and equipment, and often were not able to address survivors’ emergency or ongoing medical needs.[34]

Rehabilitation for mine/ERW survivors was limited to centers in Ankara and Dicle. There was a significant need for prosthetics and rehabilitation services to be established locally in other mine/ERW-affected provinces. There was also a need to establish facilities which could address the needs for child survivors.[35] Holders of the green card could only apply for new prostheses every five years, which was detrimental to the rehabilitation of child mine/ERW survivors.[36]

The Dicle University Research Hospital prosthetics center remained the only such center for all mine-affected regions. Since 2009, when survivors were assisted by an NGO to receive prostheses, financial constraints prevented survivors from reaching the Dicle University Research Hospital prosthetics center; no progress to improve access was reported in 2011. Dicle University also had a dedicated research department for disability issues, but it was not fully functional due to a lack of staff.[37]

Institutions promoting social inclusion remained dispersed and weak in 2011. Further measures were needed to increase the employability of persons with disabilities in both the public and private sectors, including promotion of alternative methods of employment.

The Diyarbakir Lawyers’ Bar Association continued to help mine/ERW survivors access benefits to which they were entitled, such as compensation, and to promote victim assistance.[38] In order to receive free legal assistance from one of the Lawyers’ Bar Associations, survivors must pass a means test; this test, however, excludes even the poorest survivors if they own any assets such as a small holding of land for subsistence farming.[39] Survivors called for a review of the compensation process to ensure timely and appropriate outcomes. Survivors must have made the claim and presented a case within one year of the date of the incident in order for it to proceed.

In early 2011, members of the National Medical Association of Turkey started a group to address mine issues, including the needs of survivors.[40] However, by 2012 the overall responsibilities and professional autonomy of the Turkish Medical Association had been drastically reduced. According to the World Medical Association “the Government had removed from the [Turkish] medical association's mandate the words to ensure ‘that the medical profession is practiced and promoted in line with public and individual well-being and benefit.’ As a result of this, the association could no longer challenge actions that adversely affected the right to health, the provision of health care, public health, and individual patient well-being. This diminished the independence of physicians, as well as the health of their patients.”[41]

A need for specific policies to address the social support needs of child mine/ERW survivors was identified in 2009.[42] No progress was reported by the end of 2011.

Legislation prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, and in the provision of other state services. The government did not always enforce the law effectively. The Disability Act (2005) states that all existing public buildings and roads, pavements, pedestrian crossings, open and green areas, sports areas, and similar social and cultural infrastructure serving the public must be made accessible for people with disabilities by 2012. However, almost no progress was reported in 2011 and the deadline for the act’s application had been extended by three years to 7 July 2015. Physical barriers that blocked access to public buildings were a particular problem. Access to basic rights, including education, health, social, and public services for persons with disabilities, were still critical issues despite existing legislation.[43]

Positive discrimination in favor of persons with disabilities was made possible by an amendment to the Constitution passed by referendum in September 2010. However, in 2011 these constitutional changes had not yet been applied to specific measures which could benefit persons with disabilities.[44] Further measures were needed in both the public and private sectors, including the creation of new jobs and the encouragement of working from home. Efforts to increase employment of persons with disabilities had made some progress in the public sector.[45]

Turkey ratified the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on 28 September 2009.[46] A strategy paper on accessibility for persons with disabilities was adopted, along with a related national action plan. However, in 2011 Turkey had not yet established a national mechanism for monitoring implementation of the CRPD and its optional protocol.[47]


[1] Monitor analysis of data provided by email from Muteber Öğreten, Coordinator, IMFT, 21 February 2012.

[2] The 59 identified casualties were from among a total of 93 casualties of explosive items recorded for the year. The media did not consistently identify the type of explosive item, often confusing terms between command-detonated IEDs and mines. See Muteber Öğreten, in Faruk Bildirici, “Uzaktan kumandalı mayın olur mu?” (Remote-controlled mines, okay?), Hurriyet, 13 August 2012, http://okurtemsilcisi.hurriyet.com.tr/default.aspx?DocID=21217146.  News reports also focused more on military than civilian casualties, resulting in probable under-reporting of civilian casualties.

[3] Although there was some discussion in the media regarding the incident, the NSAG casualty was not included in the 2011 casualty total due to a lack of clear information in media reporting regarding the type of device or how it was used. There were at least two casualties among paramilitary “village guards” in 2010.

[4] Email from Muteber Öğreten, IMFT, 1 April 2010. For 2010, 41 casualties were civilians. IMFT media monitoring identified at total of 156 casualties (40 killed; 116 injured) in mine/IED and ERW incidents. Of these, 62 were not yet included in the Monitor total for 2010 pending further verification of the means of activation.

[5] Data for 2008 by email from Muteber Öğreten, IMFT, 29 June 2009. Of the 2008 casualties, 72 were members of security forces and 28 were civilians.

[6] These casualties were reported as “Casulities [sic] by Explosion of APMs [antipersonnel mines] Laid by PKK/Kongra Gel Terrorist Organization,” and lacked information on the means of activation and other details. Data is therefore considered to be insufficient to determine if it fits within the Monitor casualty definition and thus has not been included in 2011 casualty totals. Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2011).

[7] Form J; Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2010), Form J; and Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2009), Form J.

[8] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2008), Form J.

[9] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Reports (for calendar years 2006–2011), Form J; response to Monitor questionnaire by the Permanent Mission of Turkey to the UN in Geneva, 31 August 2005; and presentation of Turkey, Standing Committee on Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration, Geneva, 13 May 2003.

[10] Melik Duvaklı, “Turkey, in 26 years 1,269 lives victimized by mines,” Zaman Daily, 13 April 2010, http://www.zaman.com.tr/newsDetail_getNewsById.action?haberno=972378&keyfield=6D6179C4B16E.

[11] Email from Ali M. Koknar, President, AMK Risk Management, 5 July 2007; and Ali M. Koknar, AMK Risk Management, “Turkey Moves Forward to Demine Upper Mesopotamia,” Journal of Mine Action, No. 8.2 November 2004, http://maic.jmu.edu.

[12] Melik Duvaklı, “Turkey, in 26 years 1,269 lives victimized by mines,” Zaman Daily, 13 April 2010, www.zaman.com.tr.

[13] Association of Persons with Disabilities of Turkey, “Engelli adayları Meclise taşıyalım” (“Disabled candidates move it to the Assembly”), 13 May 2011, www.tsd.org.tr/engelli-adaylari-meclise-tasiyalim-7421.

[14] Interview with Ramazan Serin, Local Agenda 21 Disability Department, 24 April 2011.

[15] Email from Muteber Öğreten, IMFT, 2 January 2012.

[16] Interview with Tolga Duygun Senior Policy Adviser, Department for European and Foreign Relations, Prime Ministry Administration for Disabled People, Ankara, 5 May 2011.

[17] EC, “Turkey 2010 Progress Report,” Commission staff working document, Brussels, 12 October 2011, p.88.

[18] Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), “Turkey Disability Survey,”.

[19] Interview with Mehmed Emin Aktar, Head, Diyarbakir Bar Association, Diyarbakir, 25 April 2011.

[20] Interview with M. Raci Bilici, Secretary, Human Rights Association, Diyarbakir Branch, Diyarbakir, 24 April 2011.

[21] The questions on 28 February 2011 by Ufuk Uras, MP for Istanbul, were follow-up to the statement in parliament of Vecdi Gönül, Minister of Defense, on 2 March 2010, in which the minister had reportedly said “Our government, the Government of the Republic of Turkey, has made a commitment to the issues concerning the education of the public living near the mined regions about the risk of mines and providing the mine victims health, social and economic assistance.” (Unofficial translation.)

[22] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2006), Form J. This referred to the system: “International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems: ICD-10.”

[23] US Department of State, “2011 Human Rights Report: Turkey,” Washington, DC, 24 May 2012.

[24] “Minister Fatma Sahin: Will respond to the problems of mine victims,” (ANKARA), 5 April 2012, www.mayinsizbirturkiye.org/.

[25] Administration for Disabled People, “About us,” http://www.ozurluveyasli.gov.tr/tr/.

[26] Interview with Sermet Basaran, Head, and Tolga Duygun, Prime Ministry Administration for Disabled People, Ankara, 19 October 2010.

[27] Notes during Monitor Mission, Diyarbakir and Ankara, 24 April–5 May 2011.

[28] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2011), Form J.

[29] Monitor notes from Workshop of the Turkish Mine/ERW Victims’ Network, Diyarbakir, 23 April 2011.

[30] Notes during Monitor Mission, Diyarbakir and Ankara, 24 April – 5 May 2011.

[31] Ibid.; interview with Ramazan Serin, Local Agenda 21 Disability Department, 24 April 2011; and Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2011), Form J.

[32] Email from Ergün Işeri, General Director, Disabled People’s Foundation, 26 March 2009.

[33] Email from Ergün Işeri, General Manager, Association of Persons with Disabilities of Turkey, 16 May 2011.

[34] Interview with Ayse Gokkan, Mayor of Nusaiybin, Nusaiybin, 25 April 2011; and Omer Ay, Nusaiybin Representative, Turkish Victims’ Network, Nusaiybin, 25 April 2011.

[35] Presentation by Dr. Muhammet Can, Assistant Professor of Forensic Medicine, Department of Forensic Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Yuzuncu Yil, Turkey’s First Review Conference, Diyarbakir, 18 October 2009.

[36] Monitor notes from Workshop of the Turkish mine/ERW Victims’ Network, Diyarbakir, 23 April 2011.

[37] Interview with Ramazan Serin, Local Agenda 21 Disability Department, April 2011 and October 2012.

[38] Mehmed Emin Aktar, Diyarbakir Bar Association, Diyarbakir 25 April 2011; and Diyarbakir Bar Association, “Mayınsız Bir Dünya İçin ‘Bacağını Ödünç Ver!..’” (“For a Mine-Free World ‘Lend your leg now!..’”), 4 April 2011, www.diyarbakirbarosu.org.tr/i/basina_a%C3%A7iklamasi.

[39] Monitor notes from Workshop of the Turkish mine/ERW Victims’ Network, Diyarbakir, 23 April 2011. Referring to Law No. 5233 - Law on the Compensation of Damages that Occurred due to Terror and the Fight Against Terrorism (2004).

[40] Arzu Erbilici, MD, Treasurer, National Medical Association, Ankara, 5 May 2011.

[41] World Medical Association, Turkish Government urged to Restore Powers to Medical Association, 28 April 2012, www.wma.net/en/40news/20archives/2012/2012_08/.

[42] Presentation by Dr. Muhammet Can, University of Yuzuncu Yil, Turkey’s First Review Conference, Diyarbakir, 18 October 2009.

[43] EC, “Turkey 2010 Progress Report,” Commission staff working document, Brussels, 12 October 2011, p. 35.

[44] EC, “Turkey 2010 Progress Report,” Commission staff working document, Brussels, 12 October 2011, p. 34.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ratification of the CRPD was approved by the Turkish Parliament on 3 December 2008.

[47] EC, “Turkey 2010 Progress Report,” Commission staff working document, Brussels, 12 October 2011, p. 34.