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Pushbacks against Afghan refugees surge in Eastern Turkey



Violent pushbacks against refugees have increased in eastern Turkey in the months since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, says an investigation by the Guardian. It involves interviews with several victims, human rights lawyers working and independent observers.

As per the International Organization for Migration, between 20,000 and 30,000 refugees were fleeing Afghanistan every week for the last few months. According to Orhan Deniz, a professor of migration at Van Yüzüncü Yıl University, many of these refugees are attempting to make the 1,400-mile journey through Iran and the Zagros mountains to the Turkish border.

Mahmut Kaçan, a Turkish lawyer based in Van who specialises in refugee and asylum cases, claims that pushbacks are “systematically” taking place. 

“This is 100% happening,” Kaçan was quoted by The Guardian. “What Turkish authorities are doing is illegal.”

Also read | EU pledges $1.2 billion in aid for Afghanistan to avert humanitarian collapse

Defence minister, Hulusi Akar has said that the eastern border had been reinforced with thermal and night-vision cameras and more troops. This includes 750 special operations officers.

Metin Çorabatir, president of the Istanbul-based Research Centre on Asylum and Migration (IGAM), said that the refusal to allow

Afghan refugees to enter Turkey legally was forcing them into deadly journeys as he cited an incident where up to 60 Afghan refugees drowned crossing Lake Van. 

Also read | Taliban urge US, EU to ‘end existing sanctions’ to avoid refugee crisis

Sangeen, who fled Kabul two days after it fell to the Taliban, said that the mountains were covered with dead bodies when he crossed into Turkey. He revealed that the thieves stole $150 from him and Turkish border forces smashed his phone on his head, burnt his clothes and kicked him repeatedly in the face. Another refugee told that his hand had been smashed with a metal helmet by a Turkish soldier.

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