Turkey to deport hundreds of illegal Afghan migrants

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim listens to Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah during a press conference in Kabul Sunday. AP
Updated 10 April 2018
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Turkey to deport hundreds of illegal Afghan migrants

  • Turkey currently hosts more than 4.5 million migrants including 3.2 million Syrian refugees
  • Rights groups have criticized the move, claiming that deporting migrants back to the conflict-torn area would put their lives at risk
KABUL: The governments of Afghanistan and Turkey have agreed on the deportation of Afghans who have been living in Turkey without legal documents for years, Afghan officials told Arab News on Monday.
The deal was reached on Sunday during the visit of Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim to Kabul.
Both governments will form a joint team to identify how many such illegal Afghan migrants live in Turkey, Javed Faisal, a spokesman for the chief executive office, told Arab News.
He said the Afghans ended up in Turkey while either trying to migrate to Europe or were deported from Europe after their refugee status was rejected by host countries over the past few years. More than 200 such migrants were deported to Kabul from Turkey on Sunday, just as the Turkish leader was holding talks with Afghan authorities, an official at the Afghan Ministry of Repatriation of Refugees, who did not wish to be named, revealed to Arab News.
An estimated 150,000 Afghans have been living in Turkey, 600 of which are believed to be lacking proper travel documents, said another government official.
“The deportation of migrants is contrary to international laws, as it was conducted without any understanding with my ministry, which is the concerned authority dealing with issues pertaining to immigrants with all the countries that have given shelter to Afghan nationals,” said the Afghan Ministry of Refugee Repatriation official.
The deportation procedure had been completed for 591 migrants in the eastern province of Erzurum, claimed the Turkish Interior Ministry. Charter flights to Kabul would be arranged on Saturday and Sunday to send the migrants back, it added.
“Following the completion of deportation procedures for illegal migrants in our other provinces, deportations will speed up and continue in the coming days,” the ministry said in a statement.
 


Russia ‘trying to help Syrian refugees to return home’

Russian soldiers distribute aid in the central Syrian province of Homs. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Russia ‘trying to help Syrian refugees to return home’

  • A buffer zone separates Syria to the east, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to the west
  • The Russian military police have set up four observation points along the demarcation line on the Syrian side of the buffer zone

MOSCOW: The Russian Defense Ministry said it was coordinating efforts to help Syrian refugees return home and rebuild the country’s infrastructure destroyed by the civil war.
Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said in a conference call that included Russian and Syrian officials that work is underway to rebuild dozens of Syria’s power stations, schools and other vital institutions.
In Damascus, Syrian Public Administration Minister Hussein Makhlouf pledged the regime would protect refugee property rights and grant returning refugees a year’s deferral from military conscription.
“The Syrian government is working to simplify procedures for refugees who return, repair housing and try to create new jobs,” Makhlouf said, adding that the authorities were also working to streamline legislation to facilitate refugee returns.
He dismissed as hostile “propaganda” claims that some refugees were facing arrests on their return.
Makhlouf called on Western nations to drop their sanctions against Damascus, introduced early in the seven-year conflict, in order to help post-war restoration and encourage the return of the refugees.
Mizintsev said that over 1.2 million of internally displaced Syrians and about 300,000 refugees have returned in the past two and a half years.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin might take part in a summit with the leaders of Turkey and Iran at the beginning of September.
The three leaders met in April at a summit in Ankara where they discussed developments in Syria.
With help from its Russian ally, President Bashar Assad’s regime has expelled fighters from large parts of Syria’s south since June.
Israel has repeatedly pledged to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence along its border. A series of airstrikes that killed Iranians inside Syria have been attributed to Israel.
A buffer zone separates Syria to the east, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to the west.
The Russian army’s Lt.-Gen. Sergei Kuralenko told reporters on an organized press tour this week how “stability” had returned to the buffer zone.
Apart from “a few problems with Daesh” in its southern tip, the demilitarized zone was “entirely under control of Syrian military police,” Kuralenko said.
“Everything is ready” for the return of UN troops, he said, after the peacekeepers were forced to withdraw in 2014.
After retaking most of the two southern provinces adjacent to the buffer zone, regime forces last month raised their flag inside, above the key border crossing of Quneitra.
The Russian military police have set up four observation points along the demarcation line on the Syrian side of the buffer zone, Kuralenko said, and plan to set up four more in the near future.
They are “willing to hand them over to the UN if it says it is ready to ensure the monitoring of the Golan alone,” he said.