Turkey strengthens border to block Afghans fleeing Taliban


Migrants who are seen crossing the border are sent back to the Iranian side, although most return and try again, according to security forces.

“No matter how many high-level steps you take, there may be those who sidestep them from time to time,” Bilmez said.

The roads leading from the border are lined with checkpoints. Successful migrants are hidden by smugglers in houses – often dirty and dilapidated buildings underground or in deeply dried up riverbeds – while waiting to be transferred to western Turkey.

Afghan migrants sit in the countryside of Tatvan, in Bitlis province, eastern Turkey, last week.Credit:PA

On Saturday, police captured 25 migrants, mostly Afghans, behind a dilapidated building in the Hacibekir neighborhood of Van.

“We thought we will have facilities here, we will win to support our parents. There are Taliban there to kill us, ”said Zaynullah, 20, one of the detainees. He said he arrived in Turkey two days earlier after traveling on foot for 80 days.

Those captured are taken for health and safety checks at a processing center. There, Seyyed Fahim Mousavi, a 26-year-old, said he fled his home in Kabul a month ago, before the Taliban arrived, fearing they would kill him because he had worked as a driver for Americans and Turks.

Turkey is concerned about increased migration across the Turkish-Iranian border as Afghans flee the Taliban's advance into their country.

Turkey is concerned about increased migration across the Turkish-Iranian border as Afghans flee the Taliban’s advance into their country. Credit:PA

His 22-year-old wife, Morsal, said they crossed Iran mainly on foot to escape the Taliban.

“They hurt women. After raping them, they kill them. They behead the men, ”she said, holding her two children, ages two and five. “We don’t want to go back. Let us just stay here.

After treatment, migrants are taken to a repatriation center, where they can spend up to 12 months before being returned to their country of origin. Those repatriations have now been halted for Afghans, leaving around 7,500 Afghans in limbo in various repatriation centers.


Ramazan Secilmis, deputy head of the migration directorate, said his organization was working to identify those in need of protection from the Taliban for resettlement in third countries.

“Those in need of protection must be separated from those who come to our country for economic reasons. We cannot automatically expel someone just because they have Afghan nationality, ”he said.



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