ANKARA -

The Afghan refugee crisis has become a priority for the Turkish government after the developments in their country. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is leading a broad international political movement by communicating with many presidents to address this crisis in light of their continued flow towards Turkish territory across the Iranian border.

Turkish authorities concerned with migrants and their humanitarian conditions sounded the "alarm bell", pointing to an unprecedented influx of Afghan refugees into Turkey, in light of the deteriorating security situation in their country, and the Taliban's control of power.

Erdogan warns of a new wave of refugees if the necessary measures are not taken regarding Afghan refugees (Anatolia)

Erdogan's movement

In a telephone conversation with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, President Erdogan stressed that if the necessary measures are not taken in Afghanistan and Iran, a new wave of immigration is inevitable, stressing that everyone, especially European countries, must bear their responsibility, and that the international community must unite on the issue of illegal immigration. regulars coming from Afghanistan.

In a telephone conversation with the President of the European Council Charles Meschen, President Erdoğan stressed that his country cannot bear the burdens of a new wave of migrants.

The Turkish President had discussed with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin the developments in Afghanistan, as well as with German Chancellor Angela Merkel the developments in Afghanistan and the migration file, and said that it was necessary to prevent a humanitarian tragedy in the face of Afghan migration and to provide urgent assistance to them in their country and neighboring countries.

In addition, Erdogan discussed, in a phone call with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the repercussions of the recent developments in Afghanistan on the migration file and the two countries, stressing the need to strengthen cooperation in the migration field on the basis of mutual understanding and interests.

It also asked the European Union to abide by its commitments to Turkey with regard to the "re-admission" agreement on immigration concluded between the two parties on March 18, 2016.

An Afghan family in a refugee center in the Turkish border city of Van (Reuters)

additional burden

In this context, Turkish journalist writer Melih Altnok stated that Turkey bears the bulk of the refugee burden in the Afghanistan crisis, and this puts great pressure on Ankara, which hosts millions of refugees and makes President Erdogan's government struggle in the face of the economic and social burden of refugees on the one hand, and the populist rhetoric and actions of the opposition bloc Which uses the refugee card against the government on the other hand.

Altnock told Al Jazeera Net that "the European Union, which could not take the initiative on the issue of Syrian refugees, should not make the same mistake with regard to Afghan refugees, but should move immediately to avoid a crisis similar to the refugee crisis it faced between 2014-2016."

"It is also necessary to form an integrated work system that brings together the United States, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, and put an emergency action plan into effect within the framework of the vision of the main transit country, Turkey," he added.

Afghan refugees undergo a medical examination at a refugee center in Van (Reuters)

Migration route

Afghan migrants enter Turkey by crossing the eastern border with Iran, coming from the Iranian regions of Mako and Urmia, which are known to be a gathering center for illegal refugees who want to enter Turkish territory, during which they travel a distance of 10 to 15 days, on foot, to reach the Turkish border.

Afghan refugees enter from the Turkish states of Igdir, Van, and Ağrı, specifically from areas where the security wall has not yet been built on the Turkish-Iranian border, and then they start walking towards Erzurum, after which the smuggling networks transport these refugees to Istanbul by minibus and trucks. Each according to his ability to pay.

Despite the tightening of security on the Iranian-Turkish border, and the establishment of a special directorate to combat human smuggling in the Erzurum region in eastern Turkey, the Iranian-Turkish border is still witnessing a large influx of Afghan refugees.

According to the widely circulated videos on Twitter, they show the crossing of thousands of migrants in human chains.

The Turkish Interior Ministry had announced the imminent completion of the continuous construction work on the border wall, which extends hundreds of kilometers along the borders with Iran and Iraq, and includes a high concrete wall, barbed wire, an observation road, advanced surveillance cameras, watchtowers and border posts.

On the other hand, Afghan refugees confirmed that Iranian security forces did not prevent them from crossing the border into Turkey, and Afghan refugee Sohail Khan said that Iranian border guards were close to the refugees while they illegally crossed the border towards Turkey, and did not prevent them from doing so.

Registration procedures for a refugee at a center in Van (Reuters)

Refugee Statistics

The head of the Center for Asylum and Migration Studies in Ankara, Metin Korapatir, said that most of the Afghans who arrived in Turkey via Iran in the past days are men between 16 and 25 years old.

He adds that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan has given additional impetus to young people who are trying to walk through the mountain road, despite the dangers and death scenarios, and he continues, "With the Taliban's control in Afghanistan, it seems that the number of Afghan refugees will increase significantly."

A journalist and photographer residing in Van province stated, on his Twitter account, that he had documented thousands of cases of illegal crossing of Afghan refugees in the past days into Turkish territory.

On the other hand, official figures issued by the Turkish Ministry of Interior indicate that the number of asylum seekers arrested upon their entry to Turkey through Van province alone in 2020 amounted to 500,000, distributed among Afghan, Pakistani and Bengali immigrants.

There is no official statistics from the Turkish government regarding the influx of refugees from Iran, since the beginning of this year.

For its part, Hurriyet newspaper says that an average of 1,000 Afghan refugees have entered the Turkish border in the past few days in different ways;

Most notable were crossing on foot or crammed into large commercial trucks.

In second place after Syrian refugees, there is the largest number of Afghan migrants and refugees in Turkey, with their number exceeding 500,000 people, according to official statistics.

According to a statement issued by the Turkish Ministry of Interior, hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees were arrested after crossing the borders, as follows: 174,000 in 2016, 175,000 in 2017, 268,000 in 2018, 454,000 in 2019 and 122,000 in 2020, while the months The first six of this year arrested 62 thousand Afghan refugees.

In the past, Afghan immigrants viewed Turkey as a transit country to Europe more than stability, but this destination seems to have changed now, especially in light of the strict procedures that Greece puts in place to cross any immigrant to European countries, whether by land or by sea.

Turkey hosts more than 5 million refugees of different nationalities, including 3.6 million Syrians, and hundreds of thousands of Afghan, Iraqi and Egyptian refugees of various Arab and African nationalities.

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