Refugees in Turkey
Refugees in Turkey

Turkey has begun deporting Afghan migrants after thousands entered the country in recent weeks. Turkey is a common transit country for migrants trying to reach Europe.

Turkish authorities began deportations on Sunday morning, with 227 Afghan migrants boarding special flights to Kabul. The flights were were provided by an Afghan airline. This is part of a major crackdown by Turkish authorities after thousands of Afghans entered the country in recent weeks. 

According to the Turkish Dogan news agency, a total of 691 migrants have been scheduled for deportation this week, with two extra flights expected from Erzurum to Kabul. Local migration authorities have been quoted as saying that there are plans to repatriate all 3000 Afghans currently in the eastern Turkish city of Erzurum.

Turkey is a common transit country for Afghan migrants en route to Europe. Between the start of 2018 and March 29, a total of 17,847 migrants entered Turkey via Iran, with the majority of these migrants coming from Afghanistan, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported. These migrants are fleeing the unstable security situation in Afghanistan, with many of them fearing persecution by the Taliban in their home country. 

Read more: How has the Afghan conflict influenced the migration crisis?

Officials in Kabul have said that the migrants are returning home voluntarily. "A number of Afghan refugees are coming back to the country of their own will," Islamuddin Jurat a spokesman for the ministry of refugees and repatriations told the Dogan news agency. "They are the ones who wanted to use Turkey as a transit route to other countries, but when they failed they decided to come back."

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Erzurum and eastern Turkey have been a focal point for human trafficking, with some of the migrants also being trafficked to other parts of the country such as Istanbul. Hurriyet reported that authorities plan to establish an anti- trafficking center in Erzurum. 

Afghan migrants usually cross into Turkey via Iran, with many of them going by foot through eastern Turkey's Van province. The CNN Turk channel interviewed migrants who were due to be deported, many of whom spoke excellent Turkish. "Of course (I will try to come back)," said one woman, who asked not be named. "Back home, there is unemployment and a lack of security."

 

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