Deputy Interior Minister Ismail Çataklı rejected claims that irregular Afghan migrants are crossing through Turkey’s eastern borders, as he underlined that the footage shared online does not reflect the truth.
In a statement, Çataklı noted that undated videos have been shared online showing groups of alleged Afghan migrants entering Turkey through Iran in an uncontrolled manner.
“It turns out that some of these videos were recorded inside Iran, while others were recorded on the Iran-Afghanistan border, and yet others were recorded on the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border,” Çataklı said.
Turkey detained 174,466 irregular migrants in 2016, 175,752 in 2017, 268,003 in 2018, 454,662 in 2019, 122,302 in 2020 and 62,687 in the first half of 2021, according to Çataklı.
The deputy minister continued by saying that the videos were published in a manipulative way to create the perception that irregular migrants can freely roam about in Turkey, which is not the case.
The recent developments in Afghanistan have forced more people to flee the country as U.S. forces withdraw amid the Taliban’s vie for power.
Turkey, whose forces in Afghanistan have always consisted of noncombatant troops, has offered to guard Hamid Karzai International Airport as questions remain on how security will be assured along major transport routes and at the airport, which is the main gateway to the capital Kabul. The security of the airport is crucial for the operation of diplomatic missions out of Afghanistan as Western forces pull out.
Çataklı noted that Turkey has been striving to strengthen international mechanisms to prevent irregular migration, enhance precautions and create effective policies to fight it and will continue to do so.
Çataklı also said that Turkey has completed 149 kilometers of the planned 259-kilometer (161-mile) security wall on the Iranian border, including 82 out of 84 kilometers on the Ağrı-Iran border, 13 kilometers of the 121-kilometer long Hakkari-Iran border and 54 kilometers on the Iğdır-Iran border. He said that work has also started on the Van-Iran border to build a 63-kilometer wall in 2021.
Turkey has also completed 90% of the electro-optical watchtowers on the Iran and Iraq borders. The towers aim to ensure effective surveillance and prevent illegal crossings, smuggling and terrorism.