Kabul pleads with Turkey to halt Afghan expulsions

Afghan migrants walk along a road after crossing the Turkey-Iran border near Dogubayazit in Agri province. Almost 18,000 Afghans arrived in Turkey between January and March this year. (Reuters)
Updated 09 May 2018

Kabul pleads with Turkey to halt Afghan expulsions

  • Last month, Turkey announced that it had sent more than 7,000 Afghans back to their homeland and said thousands more would follow.
  • The refugees are Afghan nationals who arrived in Turkey via its land border with Iran before being stopped by Turkish police and detained in deportation centers.

KABUL: Afghanistan has called on Turkey to halt its expulsion of Afghan refugees with an appeal to Ankara to provide asylum or allow them to travel to Europe.

Last month, Turkey announced that it had sent more than 7,000 Afghans back to their homeland and said thousands more would follow. Last week, about 775 Afghans were flown back from Turkey on chartered flights.

Almost 145,000 Afghans live in Turkey, according to Afghan officials at the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation. An unknown number have applied for asylum or live as refugees after fleeing Afghanistan in recent years due to the escalation of war, growing poverty and economic uncertainty.

 

The expulsion of tens of thousands of Afghan refugees from neighboring countries such as Iran and Pakistan has prompted authorities in Kabul to form a joint committee with Ankara to manage the problem, officials told Arab News.

“We are waiting for the arrival of a Turkish delegation to discuss ways of dealing with this problem,” Hafiz Ahmad Miakhail, media adviser for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, told Arab News.

“Most of the returnees are young. They have apparently signed papers for a voluntary return, but they were kept in camps where the situation pushed them to choose to come home,” said Miakhail.

Returnees receive no assistance, with some ending up living in Kabul or rejoining family members and relatives in various provinces, he said.

“We expect Turkey to honor its commitment with regards to migrants or refugees and allow Afghans to either seek asylum there or let them go to Europe,” he said.

“Expulsion is not a solution. The situation in the country is not safe. Terror activities are increasing with each passing day,” he said.

The welfare group Refugees International also expressed concern over the forced return of Afghan immigrants from Turkey.

“Returning a person to a country where he or she faces the risk of torture or ill-treatment is a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights,” the group said.

The refugees are believed to be Afghan nationals who arrived in Turkey via its land border with Iran before being stopped by Turkish police and detained in deportation centers.

Refugees International said the Afghans were coerced into signing documents in Turkish — which they could not understand — saying they agreed to return to Afghanistan voluntarily.

Some families were released and allowed to travel to Ankara to register with the United Nations refugee agency, but most were not given a chance to apply for asylum.

Arrivals in Turkey have jumped in recent months, with almost 18,000 Afghans arriving between January and March, the group said.

FASTFACTS

Turkey announced it has expelled 7,000 Afghans, with thousands more to follow. About 775 Afghans were flown back from Turkey on chartered flights last week. ‘Expulsion is not a solution,’ a Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation spokesman said.


3,000-strong African force planned against Sahel extremism

Updated 28 February 2020

3,000-strong African force planned against Sahel extremism

  • The force would be a significant new player in the Sahel where fighters linked to Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group killed thousands of people last year
  • The decision by African leaders comes as the United States considers cutting its military presence in Africa while urging African solutions to African problems

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: African leaders have decided to work on deploying 3,000 troops to West Africa’s troubled Sahel region as extremist attacks surge, an African Union official said Thursday.
The force would be a significant new player in the sprawling, arid region south of the Sahara Desert where fighters linked to Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group killed thousands of people last year — at times working together in an unprecedented move.
The decision by African leaders comes as the United States considers cutting its military presence in Africa while urging African solutions to African problems. That has sparked pressure from worried security allies including France and regional countries as well as a rare bipartisan outcry among lawmakers in Washington.
Smail Chergui, the African Union commissioner for peace and security, relayed the new troop decision that was taken at the recent AU summit during a meeting Thursday with visiting European Union officials.
The AU continental body is expected to work with the West African regional counterterror force G5 Sahel as well as the West African regional body ECOWAS, which has formed peacekeeping units in the past, Chergui said.
ECOWAS in September announced what Chergui called a “very bold” plan to counter extremism in the region, including mobilizing up to $1 billion through 2024.
“As you see and recognize yourself, the threat is expanding and becoming more complex,” Chergui said. “Terrorists are now even bringing a new modus operandi from Afghanistan and Al-Shabab” in Somalia.
It was not immediately clear what the next steps would be in forming the AU force for the Sahel, which has become the most active region in Africa for extremist attacks.
The force would join France’s largest overseas military operation, the 5,100-strong Barkhane, and the 15,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali, one of the hardest-hit countries in the attacks along with Burkina Faso and Niger.