Turkey warns US plan to resettle Afghans risks ‘major refugee crisis’

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Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu speaks at a joint news conference with his Palestinian counterpart in the capital Ankara, Turkey, May 7, 2021. (AA Photo)
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu speaks at a joint news conference with his Palestinian counterpart in the capital Ankara, Turkey, May 7, 2021. (AA Photo)

Turkey has criticized a US programme to help Afghans who worked in US-affiliated jobs resettle in the United States, warning that the plan would cause a “major refugee crisis” in the region.

Washington announced this week that it plans to accept certain Afghans who have worked for the US government or for US-affiliated institutions as refugees.

But the US programme suggests that the Afghans will have to make their own way to a third country and wait for 12 to 14 months before being resettled.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected the US plan as “irresponsible” in a statement late on Tuesday.

Turkey “does not have the capacity to deal with a new migration crisis on behalf of a third country,” the statement read.

Hundreds of Afghans have been crossing into Turkey during the past few weeks, fleeing the Taliban and raising concerns about a new refugee influx.

Turkey already hosts nearly 3.7 million refugees from neighbouring Syria and an estimated half a million Afghans and migrants from other countries.

The country remains a transit route for migrants heading to Europe, primarily from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan.

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