Turkey says it is facing ‘new refugee wave’ after 30,000 Afghans arrive

Nearly 30,000 Afghans have arrived in Turkey in the last three months. (AP)
Updated 25 April 2018
0

Turkey says it is facing ‘new refugee wave’ after 30,000 Afghans arrive

ANKARA: Nearly 30,000 Afghans have arrived in Turkey in the last three months, the Turkish government said Wednesday, after Amnesty International criticized the authorities “ruthless” decision to send more than 7,000 back to Afghanistan.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 29,899 Afghans had crossed into Turkey since January compared to 45,259 people in the whole of 2017, state news agency Anadolu reported.
“In recent months, we are facing a new refugee wave, especially from Afghanistan,” Soylu said, adding that 1,328 people smugglers had been caught by April.
Turkish authorities have sent back 7,100 migrants to Afghanistan since early April, rights group Amnesty said on Tuesday, as it denounced the “ruthless deportation drive.”
“Thousands more are in detention, being treated more like criminals than people fleeing conflict and persecution,” Anna Shea, Amnesty researcher on refugee and migrants rights, said in a statement.
Migrants from Afghanistan and other countries affected by conflict and poverty often use Turkey as a transit country in the hope of reaching Europe.
According to Amnesty, there are 145,000 Afghans in Turkey.
The country is also home to more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, as well as more than 300,000 Iraqi refugees, who have fled conflicts in their respective countries.
75,284 migrants have so far reached Turkey in 2018 compared with 172,745 last year, Soylu said in a speech in the southern city of Adana.
In March 2016, Turkey signed an agreement with the European Union to stop the flow of refugees to Europe after the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.
Over one million migrants and refugees landed on Europe’s shores in 2015, fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.


New Iraqi coalition ‘in three days’

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, left, meets with Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr in Baghdad early Sunday. Al-Sadr, whose coalition won the largest number of seats in Iraq's parliamentary elections, says the next government will be "inclusive." (Iraqi government via AP)
Updated 21 May 2018
0

New Iraqi coalition ‘in three days’

  • The Sairoon alliance led by the powerful Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr won the May 12 election with 54 parliamentary seats.
  • While Al-Sadr can not become prime minister, he is playing a key role in the talks.

BAGHDAD: Iraqi political forces have made “remarkable” progress in talks to form the largest parliamentary bloc in preparation for a new government, politicians involved in the negotiations told Arab News.

The Sairoon alliance led by the powerful Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr won the May 12 election with 54 parliamentary seats.

Talks aimed at forming a new government started immediately after the official results were announced late on Friday.

The parliamentary alliance is expected to be announced in the next few days, and while Al-Sadr can not become prime minister, he is playing a key role in the talks.

Dhiyaa Al-Assadi, the head of Sadrist Parliamentary bloc, told Arab News they have initial agreements with several key political players including the current prime minister Haider Al-Abadi and his Al-Nassir coalition and the prominent Shiite cleric Ammar Al-Hakim and his list Al-Hikma.

He added they also have basic agreements with Vice President Ayad Allawi and his Al-Wattiniya alliance along with several Kurdish parties.

“The post of prime minister is not our main goal,” Al-Assadi said. “Our goal is to make the required reforms and correct the mistakes that dominated the political process since 2003.”

Shiite politicians involved in the talks said the nucleus of the alliance is Sairoon and Hikma and negotiations are underway with Al-Abadi and the pro-Iranian Al-Fattah list to join.

“The details are supposed to be settled soon and the coalition supposed to be announced within 72 hours,” Hikma spokesman Mohammed Al-Maiyahi told Arab News. 

The talks have focussed on deciding the form of the next government, its principles and program, sources involved said. 

Abandoning the power sharing government, which has been adopted by political parties since 2003, is the most prominent issue agreed by the negotiators.

“We have agreed to form a national majority government. A government that represents all of Iraq's contents (Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds) but does not include all the winning parliamentary blocs,” a senior Shiite politician told Arab News.

Rejecting foreign intervention in Iraqi affairs, writing a clear government program and pledging to implement it according to certain time limits, are also principles agreed between negotiators.

They decided not to nominate anyone for a ministerial position considered to have failed in previous posts or who has been involved in corruption. 

“The government program is initial and the nominated prime minister has to be committed to its details and its time limits,” the politician said. 

“He (the nominated PM) would be fired after a year, if he fails to meet the items of the government program and its time limits.”

The victory by Sairoon, an alliance of candidates from various affiliations, came amid low voter turnout with many Iraqis jaded by corruption and the lack of progress under recent governments.

Al-Fattah, which is headed by Hadi Al-Amiri, the commander of Badr Organization, one of the most prominent paramilitary groups, won 47 seats and came second. Al-Nassir came third with 44 seats, but its leader, Prime Minister Al-Abadi is still in a strong position to keep his job.

The negotiations need to form an alliance that consists of no less than 166 seats - half of the total in parliament plus one.