representative image Photograph:( Others )
Kurds in the eastern Mercan Valley have been gradually replaced by Afghans, who fled here by foot and truck across Iran from the poverty and bloodshed back home. Now, with two decades of conflict behind them, some are thinking of going back, no matter the resurgent Taliban's hardline rule.
The homesick Afghan shepherd prepares his baaing flock for a good shear, in the Turkish mountains so high the silver clouds almost touch the top of his head. The pebbly valley around him was once full of Kurds, who staged a violently suppressed rebellion in Tunceli in the early years of the modern Turkish state.
But the Kurds in the eastern Mercan Valley have been gradually replaced by Afghans, who fled here by foot and truck across Iran from the poverty and bloodshed back home. Now, with two decades of conflict behind them, some are thinking of going back, no matter the resurgent Taliban's hardline rule, as reported by AFP.
Hafiz Hasimi Meymene, a 20-year-old with a fiancee impatiently waiting for him in Afghanistan said, "Nobody would leave their country unless they had to."
"We come here, make money through shepherding, and send it to our families," he adds.
VIDEO: Driven from their country by war, Afghan shepherds are eking out a living high in the mountains of Turkey, sending money home to the families they dream of returning to.https://t.co/J9eHZK2Hd6 pic.twitter.com/rY1V8VNAhv— AFP News Agency (@AFP) July 2, 2022
A handful of nylon tents are tied down to the hard ground around him, the Afghan families' new homes. A few men crouch in a shed, milking their sheep and goats. Their friend ushers the flock into a pen with a whack of a slender stick.
As reported by AFP, Meymene said, "Next year, I will return to Afghanistan. The war is over."
"When the (Afghan) state was fighting the Taliban, the economy was hit hard. But now we are planning to return," he adds.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan estimates that 300,000 Afghans now live in Turkey, which also hosts 3.7 million people from war-ravaged Syria.
Tunceli native Mustafa Acun says the locals have grown used to Afghans taking care of their herds. The 67-year-old works alongside them, making cheese and yoghurt from sheep's milk.
"I mean, our children either cannot or do not want to do this job," he says looking up from his stool, tending to some steaming pots over an open flame. It is surprisingly dangerous work.
(with inputs from agencies)
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