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Turkey’s Islamist leadership turns its back on Afghan migrants

Under the Taliban, fearful Afghans are packing their bags and leaving the country (Photo: IANS)

A global slugfest is about to take place over providing or not providing shelter to Afghan refugees. As various countries spell out their thinking over the issue, Turkey has made it clear to Europe that it is not willing to be Europe's “refugee warehouse.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on national television on Thursday: “We need to remind our European friends of this fact: Europe—which has become the centre of attraction for millions of people—cannot stay out of [the refugee] problem by harshly sealing its borders to protect the safety and well-being of its citizens. Turkey has no duty, responsibility or obligation to be Europe's refugee warehouse".

With UN agencies pointing out repeatedly about large-scale displacement of Afghan people due to fighting, countries began looking at a possible influx of Afghan refugees. That issue has now become became stark after the collapse of the government and the chaotic scenes at the Kabul airport.

With the initial wave of Afghan migrants reaching Pakistan, Iran, Oman and Turkey—the gateway to Europe—the EU is fretting about migrants reaching its shores. European countries are tweaking their humanitarian policies about taking in migrants once again after the Syrian crisis of 2015 as patience frays in their societies. The rise of right-wing parties, highly vocal against absorbing migrants, is also giving governments a headache.

Erdogan said that he would prefer to talk to the various Taliban leaders for the stability and security of Afghanistan. He is also hastening to complete a wall on the border with Iran to keep the Afghans out. Turkey has also placed additional security forces on the border with Iran. Interestingly, the ruling party and the Turkish opposition share the same line of thought about keeping Afghans out.

In the meantime, as the scared Afghans march out of their country, many families have reached Qatar. Even though Qatar has played a pivotal role in the Afghan crisis by mediating between the US and the Taliban, it has not made efforts to host the migrants. The Afghans who have reached Qatar are living in miserable and unhygienic conditions.

Afghan news agency, Asvaka has tweeted a video showing the inhuman conditions of the Afghan refugees. Hundreds of men, women and children are living in a shared accommodation with just one toilet facility.

After the unexpected collapse of the Afghan government and the escape by President Ashraf Ghani, the ordinary Afghan too is looking at an escape route. For the war-weary Afghans, staying back in Afghanistan is certainly not an option with a gross humanitarian tragedy staring them in the face.

Afghans who were working with Western governments or even their own government are at risk of being executed by the Taliban who have launched a door-to-door manhunt for such people–traitors in Taliban parlance. The US and European countries are allocating quotas and restricting the number of Afghans they can shelter from the Taliban. Many politicians in the West have voiced their opinion that Afghanistan's neighbours and the Muslim world should do more to help their brethren.