AfghanistanSpecial Reports

Refugee Crisis: Turkey’s Dangerous Choice

Bayan News – After August 15, 2021, when Kabul fell to the Taliban after two decades, a new wave of illegal migration from Afghanistan emerged. A flood of Afghan refugees stormed towards Turkey via Iran, but this illegal migration was not easy and had dangerous and deadly consequences for Afghan refugees.

Afghan refugees, seeking shelter due to security threats from the Taliban, economic difficulties, and the uncertain future of Afghanistan, faced numerous risks. They crossed treacherous routes, encountered kidnapping, hostage-taking, beatings by border guards, and various other difficulties, eventually reaching Turkish soil. However, they still did not find relative peace.

In this report, we delve into the story of a refugee who narrates his experience of illegal migration, the dangers, and hardships he faced.

Nazif Sultani is one of hundreds of Afghan refugees who, accepting numerous risks and hardships, has brought himself and his family to Turkey through the Iranian border.

Currently, he lives illegally in Turkey with his wife and three children, facing various problems ranging from economic challenges to police threats and the risk of deportation from the country. Sultani has tried several times to reach European countries through the difficult routes of Bulgaria and Greece, but has not succeeded. Ultimately, he has been returned to Turkey with humiliation, harassment, and much suffering.

Sultani states that the Turkish police have shown the worst and most inhumane behavior towards him and other refugees, a behavior that even animals do not exhibit towards one another. In other words, not only do the Turkish police lack a humane approach towards Afghan refugees, but they also subject them to the worst mental and physical torture.

Turkey is one of the countries that has hosted the highest number of refugees and displaced people from war-torn and impoverished countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and some Arab countries in recent years.

In this regard, Turkey has been a major and important destination, but a difficult transit route for Afghan migrants in recent years. Although there are conflicting statistics regarding the presence of Afghan refugees in the country, according to published statistics from the Migration Directorate, 49,922 Afghan refugees with residence permits and 19,400 refugees under international protection live in Turkey.

Meanwhile, thousands of Afghan refugees have become victims of human trafficking as they make their way from Iran to Turkey. Despite the documented coverage of illegal migration through mass media, many still choose to take the route to Turkey by cooperating with and paying exorbitant amounts to smugglers.

Among these refugees, consisting mostly of women and children, those on the vulnerable smuggling route face the most risks.

In recent times, the Turkish government has adopted a strict policy against undocumented refugees, aiming to deport them. According to reports from the Migration Directorate, the majority of detainees without proper documentation are Afghan nationals. In the first five months of 2023 alone, 17,258 Afghans were detained, and most were subsequently deported to Afghanistan. rights activists argue that the rejection of over 90% of asylum requests by the Turkish migration authorities, as well as the lack of access to healthcare insurance, are major challenges for refugees in Turkey.

Nevertheless, Turkish government institutions have reported that in the past year, from January 2022 to September 15th of the same year, over 200,000 undocumented migrants were detained in the country. Among them, Afghan citizens ranked first with nearly 87,000 individuals, followed by Syrians with 29,000, and Pakistanis with 13,000.

The Turkish government continues to implement strict laws and stringent security measures at its borders to prevent the entry of thousands of refugees who enter the country through illegal means.

Alongside Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, Turkey is considered an important destination for Afghan refugees. However, the journey from Afghanistan to Turkey illegally is neither easy nor simple.

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