08/17/2022, 11.53
TURKEY - AFGHANISTAN
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Ankara and Taliban meet to discuss refugee emergency

A delegation of Koranic students visiting the Turkish capital in the coming days. Ankara has deported at least 40,000 refugees in the past seven months. For Kabul, there are unresolved issues regarding statistics, deportation procedures and assistance provided to Afghans.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - The migrant issue is back at the center of talks between the Turkish government and the Taliban, which has been in power for a year in Afghanistan where an exodus of part of the population is under way in an attempt to escape violence and impositions by Koranic students.

Sources in Kabul report a delegation from the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation will pay an official visit to Ankara to discuss the emergency. Turkish government estimates reveal that, in the past seven months, local authorities have deported at least 40,000 refugees to Afghanistan because they lack documents or permits. 

According to Bakhtar Agency reports, deputy minister of the Taliban government's refugee ministry Mohammad Arsala Kharouti says Kabul is "dissatisfied" with the meetings and talks held so far with Turkish authorities. At the center of the discussion is the issue of Afghan refugees and the ways through which to ensure their return home.

"We want this delegation, to hold broad discussions on the return of refugees, their problems and challenges" for long-term solutions the Taliban leader added. 

For Kabul, there are problems and unresolved issues regarding statistics, deportation procedures, and assistance provided by Turkey. Vice-Minister Kharouti explains that the Taliban are asking Ankara to provide adequate facilities for the refugees while respecting the rights guaranteed to them by international norms and treaties. 

The issue of Afghan refugees, who travel a very hazardous route through Iran and Turkey in an attempt to reach Europe, the United States or Australia, remains central. Numerous stories of violations and abuses have surfaced in recent months, such as that of the migrant mother who froze to death while attempting to cross the border and who, before succumbing to the frigid temperatures, managed to get her children to safety.

An AsiaNews source had reported that "many people" have died along the border in a "desperate attempt" to start a new life away from the Taliban who have already imposed numerous regulations inspired by sharia, Islamic law. 

The number of Afghan refugees in Turkey is not known precisely, although the government estimates that there are 120,000. Interviewed by Middle East Eye, lawyer and activist Mahmut Kacan, who specializes in human rights and refugee issues, reports that since the beginning of the year, Turkish authorities have left only two options for Afghan refugees: "Those who do not want to return voluntarily," he explains, "are largely pushed back to Iran," where they risk being trapped in precarious conditions, without any support and victims of abuse by Islamic Republic agents and border guards. 

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