A journey of more than 3,000 kilometers avoiding walls, mountains and thieves

The Hangedik armed service publish is a tough and lonely area. Some barracks and a watchtower on a peak at 2,600 meters of altitude, shielded by barbed wire, whipped by the wind and from which almost everything is found in miniature: the Turkish villages to one side to the other, the stony Iranian mountains and a pair of barracks of the Groundbreaking Guard in which hardly any motion is perceived. In the center of the Turkish foundation, a bust of Atatürk, the founder of contemporary Turkey, and a motto: “Borders are our honor.” From this vantage point on the japanese border of the place, the passage of smugglers, the achievable infiltration of Kurdish insurgents and, higher than all, the irregular passage of migrants and refugees, specifically Afghans, is monitored. To shut the way to the latter, Ankara is operating in opposition to the clock in the erection of a wall along the a lot more than 500 kilometers of border with Iran.

Now right after the withdrawal of troops from the NATO mission in Afghanistan to Kabul in 2014, the selection of Afghans fleeing the war and the Taliban multiplied. If that calendar year, the Turkish security forces detained 12,000 Afghans at the border and in the rest of the nation, in 2018 there were far more than 100,000, and a lot more than 200,000 in 2019. The pandemic noticeably lessened arrivals. “Since the US announced its withdrawal from Afghanistan we have discovered an improve, but the quantities are nevertheless reduce than in other years”, clarifies Cuma Omurca, director of the Section of Migration in the province of Van: “Those who are arriving now remaining before from the tumble of Kabul so we feel that the move of migrants will enhance in the coming months ”.

The profile of individuals who arrive in Turkey is generally that of young adult men, even adolescents, clarifies Ibrahim Vurgun Kavlak, of the Turkish Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM): “The Taliban look at any gentleman who does not support them as a attainable risk, so quite a few people send out them to stay away from threats. Although the quantity of Afghan families touring in entire has also increased ”.

It is a journey of a lot more than 3,000 kilometers that commences in the cities or mountains of the Central Asian place, pushed by the worry of war, misery and the revenge of the Taliban. Even though the least difficult route out of Afghanistan is by its western border at Herat, the improve in checkpoint Taliban and the reinforcement of stability in Iran make this route difficult, which is why, as verified by a lot more than a dozen Afghans interviewed in latest times, smugglers like to cross them into Pakistan by means of the Dashti Margo (Desert of Death) of the province. southern Nimroz. The Pakistani Baluchistan, in which they get there, is a problematic location with exercise by the Baloch insurgency and fundamentalist groups, but it is also the route utilized by drug traffickers to bring heroin to Iran, the similar route employed for human trafficking.

“It is a extremely difficult journey, we had been in the desert, with no food or drinking water, and then it took us 48 several hours to cross the mountains. [hacia Irán]”Explains Halil Rahman, a 16-12 months-aged Afghan:“ In Iran we ended up handed from zulo to zulo until eventually we arrived in Khoy [noroeste], and from there we crossed to Turkey ”. The excursion lasts all-around a thirty day period because, although inside the international locations, the refugees are transported in cars, the borders are crossed on foot via mountain ranges that exceed 2,000 meters of altitude. The cemeteries of the town of Van, the initially they arrived in Turkey, present the harshness of the journey: lifeless from freezing, fallen, shot victims …

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On the border amongst Iran and Turkey, a gravel road and a new wall winding brightly in the sun, which the Turkish govt has started to erect. To do this, a cement factory has been mounted on the slopes of the mountain that manufactures, in document time, blocks of 3 meters superior by 3 meters lengthy and that the trailers climb with trouble, escorted by armored automobiles from the Turkish Armed Forces. The wall is advancing at 300 meters a day and currently covers about 50 percent of the 534 kilometers of border that separates Iran from Turkey. “The Iranian military is accomplishing almost nothing to cease irregular migrants,” complains a Turkish formal to justify the need for the wall.

An Afghan refugee confirms this tale. They are all compliments to the Iranian safety forces: “They gave us blankets and cookies for the youngsters.” On the other hand, he relates, the passage to Turkey was terrible: “The Turkish gendarmes beat us and took the funds I had. It was raining. We were being thirsty and hungry and they still left us in the rain although they harassed us with the canines. Then they sent us back to Iran. And the Iranians took us back again to Turkey. “

A number of resources consulted preserve that the warm returns of Afghans to Iran have multiplied in new months and many interviewed refugees declare to have been returned up to three or four occasions. It is the same unlawful follow that the Turkish authorities accuse Greece of on its western border: the guidelines dictate that, right before becoming deported, asylum claims submitted by migrants will have to be processed. Omurca denies that any person is becoming returned to Iran and claims that deportations to Afghanistan have also stopped presented the country’s condition (far more than 100,000 Afghans have been returned by Turkey to their nation in recent a long time).

Consequently, the Afghans who are at this time captured are put in detention centers for months whilst waiting around for their condition to be clarified. They are still left in “limbo”, denounces attorney Mahmut Kaçan. For this motive, and to avoid attainable returns to Iran, “they attempt to escape to the west as shortly as possible.” But it is not simple: the roadways that guide out of Van have been loaded with law enforcement checkpoints that should be circumvented by building the route on foot, at evening, as a result of fields and mountains. In some cases they use compact boats to sail the immense Lake of Van and so attain the neighboring provinces Final yr a person of these boats sank and its sixty occupants died.

Meanwhile, until it is their transform to escape from Van, they cover. “They have disappeared from sight, right until just lately you saw them in lines on the street. Not now ”, explains the proprietor of a cafe in Van.

They rest in secluded alleys, in deserted residences, less than bridges over dry streams, or in collectors. Even in cemeteries, since parks are no for a longer time safe. Halit, 21, who has joined 6 other compatriots, complains that the night right before two gentlemen who posed as law enforcement officers robbed them and took them to an alley to research them: they took 500 lire (about 50 euros) and a Cell mobile phone. Robbers and scammers are a regular together the way, simply because how are those people who are in a place illegally going to report?

“I have been waiting around for the trafficker for numerous days. I paid out him 300 bucks [254 euros] to get me to Ankara [la capital de Turquía], but he has disappeared, ”laments Dost Mohammad, who life in a residence marked for demolition with his new buddy, Abdulmatin, 17, who was robbed by robbers in Iran. Just about every time they listen to a siren or a noise outdoors, they fearfully glimpse out the window, not the law enforcement or another person who can report them.

The first goal of virtually all Afghans is to attain Istanbul. The Turkish megalopolis of additional than 17 million folks presents extra prospects to go unnoticed and do the job. “In Turkey there are about 185,000 Afghans with temporary safeguarded standing and one more 120-140,000 in an irregular condition. The previous have the proper to work, but only if the employers make the papers for them. Most businesses do not register them since it is more affordable for them to use them in black in textile workshops or in agriculture, “explains Ali Hekmat, an Afghan activist in Turkey:” So, if offered the chance, just about every person would choose to go to Europe or Canada ”.

In addition, the surroundings in Turkey is a person of increasing hostility to refugees, specified the delicate financial problem that the state is heading as a result of, and the existence of practically 4 million Syrian refugees is most likely to be perpetuated. Statements by a number of European leaders who have named for Turkey to just take treatment of Afghans fleeing their country (for case in point, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace proposed putting in facilities offshore to system the asylum purposes of Afghans in nations around the world this kind of as Pakistan or Turkey without even consulting Ankara initially) have only further more unnerved spirits. The opposition has thrown alone into the jugular of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s governing administration, accusing him of currently being incapable of defending the borders and of turning the country into an immense refugee camp through key pacts with the West. “My colleagues never ever talked about Afghans, but now they are speaking all day that if 6 million refugees are going to occur, if we have not fought tough enough … racism is increasing,” clarifies Hekmat.

Kavlak, from ASAM, acknowledges that it is turning into progressively complicated for Turkey to host so numerous refugees, but also criticizes the way in which Turkish media, artists and famous people – via social media – and political events are dealing with the issue : “They give the picture that there is a great circulation [migratorio] towards Turkey, but according to studies the selection of newcomers is decrease than in the final three a long time. […] This triggers quite a few individuals who have hardly ever observed an immigrant or refugee to build adverse prejudices. So xenophobia and hate speech are on the rise ”.

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Linda W. Davis

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