Ankara unsettled by function in US program to relocate Afghans

ISTANBUL — Ankara officers are condemning a US program to resettle Afghan refugees by way of third nations, together with Turkey, saying the move might spark a brand new migration disaster within the area and overburden the nation, which presently hosts greater than four million displaced folks.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken unveiled a relocation plan for hundreds of Afghans who could also be focused by the Taliban for his or her affiliation with US organizations, as American troops full their withdrawal from Afghanistan following 20 years of struggle.

The program, meant for Afghans who labored for US contractors, nongovernmental organizations or media organizations and who should not eligible for US particular immigrant visas, requires candidates to go away Afghanistan and wait in a 3rd nation the place their circumstances can be processed in 12 to 14 months. The nations probably to function third nations for candidates are Pakistan and Turkey by way of Iran, which Afghans should transit at their very own expense.

-Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic denounced the move as an “irresponsible decision” in a press release Tuesday, claiming Ankara officers weren’t consulted previous to the plan’s announcement.

“This announcement will cause a major refugee crisis in our region and increase the misery of Afghans on the migration routes,” Bilgic stated within the assertion. “Turkey does not have the capacity to bear another refugee crisis for another country.”

In an interview with Bloomberg Wednesday, the Turkish presidency’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, additionally condemned the measure, saying “Turkey does not, and will not, serve as any country’s waiting room.”

The information comes as anti-migrant rhetoric is rising as soon as extra in Turkey, spurred by some political leaders who channel rising public discontent over the long-term presence of greater than 3.7 Syrian refugees, which they declare are straining state sources and take low-skilled jobs away from Turkish residents.

In latest weeks, between 500 to 2,000 Afghans have reportedly been getting into Turkey’s jap border with Iran, elevating strain on the Turkish authorities to stop a brand new migration wave from Afghanistan, the place the Taliban has been claiming extra territory amid the US withdrawal. According to information from Turkey’s Interior Ministry, greater than 30,500 Afghan nationals have entered Turkey to date this 12 months. In response to such developments, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu outlined plans Wednesday to extend border safety with new partitions and surveillance drones to observe actions alongside Turkey’s border with Iran.

Mahmut Kacan, a lawyer primarily based in Van who previously labored as an asylum officer for the UN’s refugee company, the UNHCR, stated it was too early to evaluate the impression of the US relocation program however that native information stories predict 10,000-20,000 Afghans might be eligible for the plan and will go away Afghanistan within the coming months. US officers have but to supply a quantity on what number of Afghans could be eligible for this system.

Among the potential newcomers would come with former interpreters and staff for US organizations and their households. Kacan stated he has but to see such teams arrive within the Van province, which borders Iran, however Afghans presently arriving within the space have instructed him Iranian safety forces are permitting migrants to transit by means of the nation en path to Turkey.

“In Van, we haven’t observed people arriving in Turkey to seek asylum [in the United States], but in September, maybe October, we might expect those groups to come,” Kacan instructed Al-Monitor.

Kacan stated the US program was “not logical” because it endangered asylum-seekers who should pay smugglers to reach Turkey and will face plenty of human rights violations alongside the best way. He additionally stated it was unlikely the Foreign Ministry was not knowledgeable in regards to the plan previous to its announcement Monday.

The essential opposition Republican People’s Party head, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, additionally criticized the relocation program in a Twitter thread Tuesday, making unsubstantiated claims Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had secretly agreed to obtain Afghan refugees throughout his assembly together with his US counterpart, Joe Biden, in June.

Kilicdaroglu, who has more and more taken a more durable stance towards migration in latest weeks, additionally vowed to cancel agreements made between Erdogan and the US authorities if his celebration assumes the presidency in elections presently scheduled for 2023.

“As a member of the alliance that will govern Turkey in the future, we do not accept those deals that you made with Erdogan,” Kilicdaroglu stated. “Whatever you have said or relayed to Erdogan [is] binding only for him, not for the Republic of Turkey.”

Metin Corabatir, president of the Ankara-based Research Center on Asylum and Migration, stated the relocation plan comes at a time when Turkish society is very polarized over the problem of internet hosting refugees.

“Historically, Turkey helped many refugees who have been evacuated by United States from Iraq via Turkey,” Corabatir instructed Al-Monitor.

“It is not a good time to make such a statement before due consultation. It would further put the government in a difficult situation in the light of growing dislike of refugees because of the liberal refugee policies and would harm the interests of refugees already in Turkey,” he added.

According to software types for the US resettlement program out there on the web site, no relocation procedures can be performed in Afghanistan or Iran, and pre-approved candidates “will need to arrange and pay for their own travel to a third country.”

Once in a 3rd nation, candidates should inform the US State Department, which can start processing their circumstances over a interval of 12 to 14 months through which people should cowl their living bills. The program paperwork additionally state the United States can be “unable to provide protection or support to individuals while they await a decision on their refugee case.”

The developments come as Washington and Ankara stay in discussions over the potential function of Turkish forces in guarding and working Kabul’s worldwide airport following the withdrawal of US-led forces.


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