Turkey’s main opposition leader and presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has called on the Turkish military to prevent Afghan migrants from illegally entering Turkey.
“There is news that irregular Afghan migrants are entering our country. I’m calling on our military. This is our homeland, and the border is our honor. Do your job at the border,” he said on Twitter.
Afgan kaçakların ülkemize aktığının haberleri geliyor. Mehmetçiğimize sesleniyorum. Vatan hepimizin vatanı, hudut da hepimizin namusu. Sınırda görevinizi yapın, kimseyi dinlemeyin.
— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) April 2, 2023
Kılıçdaroğlu had earlier said that if elected, he would prioritize Turkey’s interests regarding the future of a migrant deal signed with the EU in 2016 that is held by many as responsible for the large number of refugees in the country.
The number of irregular migrants deported from Turkey in 2022 increased by 159 percent compared to 2021, reaching 119,817, the highest figure in the country’s history, the Migration Management Directorate General said in a statement.
According to official data, a total of 66,534 irregular migrants were sent back to Afghanistan in 2022.
Refugees in Turkey are frequently targeted by Turkish politicians, who hold them responsible for the social and economic problems in the country.
Turkey is deporting tens of thousands of Afghans directly to Afghanistan or pushing them back at its land border with Iran without checking to see if they are eligible for international protection, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released in November.
According to HRW, Afghans in Turkey are prevented from registering for international protection, and Afghans facing deportation are often not given the opportunity to apply for refugee status.
The number of refugees in Turkey is estimated at 3.9 million, including 3.6 million Syrians with temporary protection status and 320,000 others, mostly Afghans.