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US resettlement of Afghans may cause great migration crisis, Turkey says

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Turkey on May 07, 2021 [Cem Özdel/Anadolu Agency]
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Turkey on 7 May 2021 [Cem Özdel/Anadolu Agency]

Turkey yesterday criticised a US programme which offers potential resettlement to Afghans who may be targets of Taliban violence due to their affiliations to America, saying the move would cause a "great migration crisis" in the region, Reuters reports.

Ankara suggested the US take Afghan refugees directly to America by plane and not use Turkey as a transit route.

"As Turkey, we do not accept the irresponsible decision taken by the United States without consulting our country. If the United States wants to take these people to its country, it is possible to transfer them directly to their country by planes," the Foreign Ministry said.

Thousands more Afghans who may be targets of Taliban violence because they worked with American forces in the country will have the opportunity to resettle as refugees in the United States under the "Priority Two" programme announced by the State Department on Monday.

The programme, which the State Department said could help "many thousands" of Afghans, comes as fighting surges in Afghanistan ahead of the formal completion of the US troop withdrawal at the end of this month, with the Taliban pushing to capture key provincial capitals.

In Turkey, concerns over a potential new influx of migrants into Turkey from Afghanistan, via Iran, have grown in recent weeks as violence between the Afghan government and the Taliban surged ahead of the US and NATO forces' withdrawal.

Last week, Turkish security forces detained nearly 1,500 irregular migrants, most of them Afghans, near the southeastern border with Iran, officials said, amid rising violence in Afghanistan

Last month, the foreign ministers of Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran discussed cooperation on security, energy, and migration but Turkish diplomatic sources say there is no specific mechanism between Ankara and Tehran to address migration from Afghanistan.

Turkey already hosts more than four million refugees, the vast majority from Syria, and is the world's leading refugee host.

READ: What awaits the EU-Turkey agreement after this new influx of Afghan refugees?

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