AFGHANISTAN (OBSERVATORY) – Around 30,000 Afghans have entered Turkey illegally since the beginning of this year, the interior minister said on Tuesday, a large increase in Ankara’s response to massive deportations.
Sulaiman Suwailo said 29,899 Afghans had entered Turkey illegally since the beginning of 2018, compared to 45,259 in the year 2017, Anatolia news agency reported.
“A few months ago we are facing a new wave of immigration, especially from Afghanistan,” Suilu said, adding that more than 1,300 smugglers had been arrested since Jan. 1.
Turkish media in recent weeks have been photographing groups of Afghans walking on the roads or in the fields to the west.
Faced with the influx of Afghan nationals from Iran, Ankara has stepped up deportations in recent weeks.
In a statement published on Tuesday, Amnesty International condemned the “merciless deportation campaign” and indicated that at least 2,000 Afghans were at risk of being deported.
Turkey is a major route for immigrants from Afghanistan and other crisis-prone countries seeking to cross from Asia to Europe in search of a better life or escape wars and unrest in their countries.
But Turkey is not only a transit country, it receives about 3.5 million Syrians who fled the conflict in their country and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and other nationals from the region.
Turkey signed a deal with the European Union in March 2016 to halt the flow of refugees to Europe after the worst refugee crisis on the continent since World War II.