Turkey says it won’t shoulder new Afghan migration, slams US

Migrants walk along the hard shoulder of a highway as they make their way from the Iranian border the city of Tatvan, around 200km away, in the eastern Lake Van region of Turkey.(Photo by BULENT KILIC / AFP)

Turkey’s foreign ministry has called the United States “irresponsible” after the Biden administration announced it would expand efforts to assist at-risk Afghan citizens with the major caveat that the adjudication process would take months in a third country, The Associated Press reported.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic said Wednesday the US statement had suggested Turkey as an application spot “without consultation.” He said Turkey does not have the capacity to shoulder another migration crisis.

“The US may directly transport these people by plane. Turkey will not take over the international responsibilities of third countries,” Bilgic said, and added Turkey would not allow its laws to be abused by other countries. He said the US announcement would trigger a major refugee crisis.

Bilgiç’s comments came as Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has claimed that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan brokered a deal with US President Joe Biden during their first meeting in June to allow into Turkey over 1 million Afghans who are fleeing their country due to a US decision to withdraw its troops.

“I call on to the US: As a member of the alliance that will govern Turkey in the future, we do not accept those deals that you made with Erdogan. Whatever you have said or relayed to Erdogan are binding only for him, not for the Republic of Turkey,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a tweet.

Turkey is already hosting some 3.7 million Syrians who fled the civil war there. Afghans have also fled to Turkey to escape their country’s war and instability. Media reports from border towns with Iran show the number of Afghans crossing into Turkey are on the rise.

The State Department on Monday said it is widening the scope of Afghans eligible for refugee status in United States to include current and former employees of US-based news organizations, US-based aid and development agencies and other relief groups that receive U.S. funding. Current and former employees of the U.S. government and the NATO military operation who don’t meet the criteria for a dedicated program for such workers are also covered.

But applicants must leave Afghanistan to begin the adjudication process that may take 12-14 months in a third country, and the US does not intend to support their departures or stays there.

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