Turkey deports hundreds of Afghan migrants back to Afghanistan

KABUL (TCA) — Turkey is deporting hundreds of Afghans back to Afghanistan in a major operation after thousands of them allegedly illegally entered the country in recent weeks, RFE/RL reports.

On April 8, 227 Afghan migrants boarded a charter flight from the northeastern city of Erzurum to Kabul, Turkish news agencies reported.

They said an additional more than 400 Afghans were set for deportation in the coming days.

Migration officials in Erzurum were quoted as saying that the authorities planned to deport all 3,000 Afghan migrants who are currently in the city.

In Kabul, a spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations insisted that they were coming back home of their own will.

“They are the ones who wanted to use Turkey as a transit route to other countries, but when they failed they decided to come back,” Islamuddin Jurat said.

During a visit to Kabul for talks with Afghan leaders, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on April 8 that Ankara was grateful for Afghanistan’s cooperation over the matter.

“There is no problem here,” Turkish state media quoted Yildirim as saying at a news conference with Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah.

Turkey is a key transit route for migrants from Afghanistan and other countries in Asia and the Middle East seeking to reach Europe in search of better lives and work.

Turkish media have reported that several thousand migrants from war-plagued Afghanistan had crossed into Turkey in recent weeks. They were believed to have crossed from Iran into Turkey and then walked for days from the border to reach Erzurum.

Rights groups have criticized Ankara for deporting migrants back to conflict-torn countries such as Afghanistan, saying it was putting their lives at risk.


Times of Central Asia