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Turkey beefs up measures against potential Afghan influx

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A migrant family from Afghanistan, caught by Turkish security forces after crossing illegally into Turkey from Iran, arrives at a migrant processing center in the border city of Van, Turkey on August 22, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

Turkey is beefing up security measures on its border with Iran and elsewhere to prevent a likely influx of Afghan refugees, who could try to enter the country after fleeing a Taliban takeover.

The country is to add another 64 kilometers (39 miles) to a three-meter-high wall that it has set up on part of its border to prevent incoming refugee waves, Reuters reported on Saturday.

Turkey began building the wall in 2017 after foreign-backed violence targeting Syria faced it with an onrush of millions of Syrian refugees.

Ditches, wire, and round-the-clock security patrols would cover the rest of the 560-kilometer (347-mile) frontier, the agency added.

Last week, the Taliban took over the Afghan capital Kabul after months of exceptionally forceful offensive aimed at renewing their rule over the Central Asian nation.

The United States, who had been maintaining significant military presence in Afghanistan since 2001, did not help the matters by announcing a pending full withdrawal right in the middle of the Taliban offensive in April.

Now, Turkey could face a repeat of the scenario that eventually had it host some three million refugees from Syria.

“We want to show the whole world that our borders are unpassable," said Mehmet Emin Bilmez, governor of the eastern border province of Van, of Turkey’s ramped-up border security measures.

The European Union, which is the desired destination of many of the Turkish-bound refugees, depends heavily on Turkey to prevent any subsequent influx onto the bloc.

However, Ankara accuses Brussels of not paying it back sufficiently for its already extensive efforts to stop EU-bound refugees. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan underscored the country’s limits in a crystal-clear warning addressed to the bloc earlier. 

Turkey has no intention of becoming "Europe's migrant storage unit," he said.


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