Afghan migrants in Turkey. Credit: Reuters
Afghan migrants in Turkey. Credit: Reuters

Thousands of Afghans have arrived in Turkey since the beginning of the year, many of the recent arrivals fleeing from Iran. They often find little help in Turkey which hosts the world's largest refugee population.

The Turkish interior Ministry has said that 61,819 Afghan migrants have arrived in Turkey from the beginning of the year to mid-August. This was in comparison to the total of 45,259 that arrived last year.

Many of the Afghan migrants are heading to Turkey from Iran, where deteriorating economic conditions due to international sanctions and a lack of rights for Afghans means they seek asylum elsewhere. "Iran didn't do anything for me," Javad Saadatnejad an Afghan refugee in Iran for 34 years told AFP.

Human rights organization Amnesty International reported in April that Turkey is home to 145,000 Afghans. Afghan migration dates all the way back to when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Then, Afghans fled to Turkey to escape the war. Nowadays Afghans leave their home country due to the Taliban, an extremist organization that used to govern Afghanistan.     

Many of the Afghans are later expelled back to their home country from Turkey, especially since 30,000 Afghans arrived in Turkey during the first few months of 2018. "When the Afghans arrive in Turkey, the government puts the majority of them in departure centers where they are then sent back to Afghanistan," Metin Corabatir, the President of the Research Center on Asylum and Migration told AFP. Amnesty International said in April that so far 7,100 migrants have been deported from Turkey to Afghanistan, with that number likely higher today.  

Afghans often struggle in Turkey

Afghans who manage to stay in Turkey often find it difficult to obtain a work permit. This is not an easy process, Corabatir says, and many of the migrants then get involved in under the table labor. Zakira Hekmat, the founder of the Afghan Refugees Solidarity and Aid association (Afghan-Der), said that there is a growing prejudice among Turks against the Afghan newcomers.  

In June 2017, Human Rights Watch released a report criticizing the fact that asylum seekers from nations such as Iran and Afghanistan are often stuck in cities without permission to move around freely. Their opportunities of finding work are therefore limited. This in comparison to Syrian asylum seekers in Turkey, who are allowed to move around the country.


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