Turkey is set to increase measures against illegal migration, as diplomatic sources stated that irregular migration originating from the situation in Afghanistan must be handled through regional solutions.
Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum-seekers who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution. Ankara has recently seen an increase in refugees, particularly from Afghanistan.
Concerns have risen over a possible spike in migrants from Afghanistan due to the United States' pullout from that country after two decades and the following surge of Taliban attacks.
Turkey has deployed additional reinforcements to its eastern border with Iran and new measures are expected to be applied. The border security will be supported by technological systems.
As recently announced, to ensure the safety and security of the Turkish-Iranian border, a 295-kilometer (183-mile) long wall will be constructed along the entire shared border. It is hoped that the wall will help to prevent illegal crossings and the trafficking of contraband and that it will also hinder terrorists from infiltrating the country.
Also, Turkish authorities plan a three-stage system to curb the migration wave. Surveillance, patrol, control and ambush activities of border units take place in the first leg of the three-stage barrier system established within the scope of combating illegal immigration. In the second stage, there is a mobile ambush and patrol in the back region with commandos, and in the third stage, the capture and deportation of passers-by with the coordination of the Gendarmerie and the relevant units of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).
Diplomatic sources note that the solution to the problem of illegal immigration originating from Afghanistan should be found between the countries of the region.
The European Union countries stand out among the countries that Afghans prefer to immigrate to. In this context, the governments of the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Greece demanded that the citizens of Afghanistan, whose asylum applications were rejected and who exhausted all legal remedies, be returned to their country.
Adelbert Jahnz, one of the spokespersons of the EU Commission, also stated that the return of Afghans whose asylum applications were rejected is not at the disposal of the bloc and depends on the decisions to be taken by the member states.
While the uncertainty regarding asylum applications and illegal immigration within the EU continues, Ankara has stated that the European Union, which has not yet established migration mechanisms at the end of its NATO mission, should work to ensure that it is not "caught unprepared" as in the wave of migration from Syria.
Turkey underlines that it will not bear the burden of the migration crises experienced as a result of the decisions of third countries. In this context, security measures are being increased at the borders, and advanced technology products, including drones and planes, are being used to detect illegal immigrants. Border troops have been reinforced, especially against a possible increase in the illegal crossing point on the Iranian border. Cameras, thermal cameras, radar, binoculars and camera traps and other reconnaissance and surveillance tools are also used extensively at the borders.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry recently rejected an "irresponsible decision taken by the United States" regarding Afghan refugees. Ankara criticized the U.S. program to offer potential resettlement to Afghans who may be targets of Taliban violence due to their affiliations, saying the move would cause a "great migration crisis" in the region.
The statement came after the U.S. State Department announced a U.S. Refugee Admissions Program Priority 2 Designation for Afghan nationals who worked for the U.S. government, U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations and press organizations.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement it rejected a reference to Turkey as a migration route for Afghans, and added that Turkey – the world's leading host for refugees with more than 4 million migrants – would not "undertake a new migration crisis on behalf of a third country."
Video footage has shown large groups of migrants in the area near the border with Iran, though the Turkish government says that there has not yet been a surge in numbers.
The Taliban have pressed a sweeping offensive across Afghanistan in recent months, capitalizing on the last stages of the U.S. troop withdrawal, due to be completed by the end of August, and raising fears of a potential humanitarian crisis.
The United Nations recently estimated half of Afghanistan's 39 million people are in need of aid, and called on the international community to maintain financial support for the country.
Many of the migrants arriving via Iran are heading for Istanbul to find work or passage to another coastal city from which to embark for Europe.
Turkey and Iran are the countries most affected by the migration problem caused by increasing tensions resulting from the advance of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Turkey's Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop stated last week.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said Turkish officials were holding high-level talks over the issue with Afghan counterparts.
The issue is also likely to feature in talks between Ankara and Brussels about updating a 2016 deal under which Turkey received aid for hosting migrants seeking refuge in the European Union.
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