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Ditches, wire, patrols: Turkey reinforces border to block Afghans fleeing Taliban

Migrants who are spotted getting through at the border are returned to the Iranian side, though most return and try again, according to security forces.

“No matter how many high-level measures you take, there may be those who evade them from time to time,” Bilmez said.

Roads leading from the border are lined with checkpoints. Migrants who make it through are hidden by smugglers in houses – often dirty, ramshackle buildings underground or in deep dried riverbeds –waiting to be moved to western Turkey.

Afghan migrants sit in the countryside in Tatvan, in Bitlis Province, eastern Turkey, last week.

Afghan migrants sit in the countryside in Tatvan, in Bitlis Province, eastern Turkey, last week.Credit:AP

On Saturday police captured 25 migrants, mostly Afghans, behind a dilapidated building in Van’s Hacibekir neighbourhood.

“We thought we will have facilities here, we will earn to support our parents. There, there are Taliban to kill us,” said 20-year-old Zaynullah, one of those detained. He said he arrived in Turkey two days earlier after travelling on foot for 80 days.

Those captured are taken for health and security checks at a processing centre. There Seyyed Fahim Mousavi, a 26-year-old, said he fled his home in Kabul a month ago, before the Taliban came, fearing they would kill him because he had worked as a driver for the Americans and Turks.

Turkey is concerned about increased migration across the Turkish-Iranian border as Afghans flee the Taliban advance in their country.

Turkey is concerned about increased migration across the Turkish-Iranian border as Afghans flee the Taliban advance in their country. Credit:AP

His 22-year-old wife, Morsal, said they took the journey through Iran mostly on foot to escape the Taliban.

“They harm women. After raping them, they kill them. They behead the men,” she said, holding her two children, aged two and five. “We don’t want to go back. Just let us stay here.”

After processing, migrants are taken to a repatriation centre, where they can spend up to 12 months before being sent back to their home country. Those repatriations have been halted for Afghans now, leaving around 7500 Afghans in limbo in various repatriation centres.

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Ramazan Secilmis, deputy head of the migration directorate, said his organisation was working to identify those who need protection from the Taliban to relocate them to third countries.

“Those who need protection need to be separated from those who come to our country due to economic reasons. We cannot deport anyone automatically just because they have Afghan nationality,” he said.

AP

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