Frozen to Death: Afghan Mother Dies to Protect Her Kids on Turkish-Iranian Border

An Afghan mother’s heroic death to protect her children during a blizzard represents the death of humanity and the global failure of handling the issue of refugees in a more humane way.

Abdullah Ayasun


An Afghan mother was found frozen to death on the Turkish-Iranian border.

The residents of the Avzek village in the Ozalp district of Turkey’s eastern Van province on the border with Iran were startled by an unanticipated visit from two young Afghan boys who were seemingly lost in the wilderness in the midst of a bone-chilling blizzard as the hours progressed to the new year.

Their hands and feet were severely damaged by frostbites. How they survived the storm, which arrested the movement of the villagers who were usually acclimatized by harsh winters, was beyond comprehension.

Their despairing state was more than enough to remove the language barrier as boys pleaded for help for their missing mother.

After tending the boys, the villagers went on a frenzied search to locate the unfortunate woman. They found the mother. Dead. Frozen.

The sight was to chill and shudder even the most non-sentimental people.

Based on the account of the villagers, the local media recounted the story that became viral on social media. When the blizzard struck the border area, the mother sent her boys to the nearest village for help. To protect them from the punishing cold, the mother slipped off her socks and covered the hands of the boys.

She was frozen to death. The pictures show that she tried to cover her feet with a nylon bag against exposure to the cold. The socks she gave to her kids have done the purpose; her sacrifice saved the boys. It also killed her.

Villagers believe that the mother and boys were strayed from the path while they were crossing from Iran to Turkey.



Abdullah Ayasun

Boston-based journalist and writer. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 2023 WHCA Scholar. On art, culture, politics and everything in between. X: @abyasun