August 19, 2021
Fearing a new refugee crisis, Turkey is reinforcing its border with Iran to stop a potential influx of Afghans fleeing following the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan.
Irregular arrivals are already up as Afghans who fled weeks and months ago show up at the rugged border area after a long trek across Iran.
A group of Afghans encountered by The Associated Press near the border said they had deserted the Afghan military and fled the country as the Taliban offensive accelerated.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government had brushed off warnings and criticism from opposition parties about an increase in the number of migrants from Afghanistan.
This week, he admitted that Turkey faces a new refugee wave from Afghanistan and said his government would work with Pakistan to try and bring stability in the war-ravage country.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the border with Iran is being reinforced with troops and that a wall being erected at the border is nearing completion.
Iran said on Wednesday it will not allow refugees to cross the border from Afghanistan.
Anti-migration sentiment is already running high in the Turkey with 4 million refugees, as it grapples with economic woes – including high unemployment – that have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Video images circulating on social media over the past months have shown groups of young men allegedly arriving in Turkey from Iran.
Some media reported that up to 1,000 migrants have been crossing the border with Iran every day.