A journey of more than 3,000 kilometers steering clear of walls, mountains and burglars

The Hangedik army publish is a rough and lonely put. Some barracks and a watchtower on a peak at 2,600 meters of altitude, protected by barbed wire, whipped by the wind and from which everything is viewed in miniature: the Turkish villages to a person facet to the other, the stony Iranian mountains and a few of barracks of the Innovative Guard in which barely any motion is perceived. In the center of the Turkish base, a bust of Atatürk, the founder of modern day Turkey, and a motto: “Borders are our honor.” From this vantage place on the eastern border of the region, the passage of smugglers, the achievable infiltration of Kurdish insurgents and, over all, the irregular passage of migrants and refugees, especially Afghans, is monitored. To close the way to the latter, Ankara is functioning in opposition to the clock in the erection of a wall together the extra than 500 kilometers of border with Iran.

Previously just after the withdrawal of troops from the NATO mission in Afghanistan to Kabul in 2014, the number of Afghans fleeing the war and the Taliban multiplied. If that year, the Turkish protection forces detained 12,000 Afghans at the border and in the relaxation of the nation, in 2018 there were much more than 100,000, and much more than 200,000 in 2019. The pandemic noticeably reduced arrivals. “Since the US declared its withdrawal from Afghanistan we have seen an boost, but the numbers are even now lessen than in other years”, points out Cuma Omurca, director of the Office of Migration in the province of Van: “Those who are arriving now still left previously from the slide of Kabul so we feel that the circulation of migrants will maximize in the coming months ”.

The profile of all those who arrive in Turkey is largely that of young adult males, even adolescents, clarifies Ibrahim Vurgun Kavlak, of the Turkish Affiliation for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM): “The Taliban think about any man who does not assist them as a doable danger, so numerous households ship them to stay away from dangers. Though the number of Afghan households traveling in complete has also enhanced ”.

It is a journey of much more than 3,000 kilometers that begins in the towns or mountains of the Central Asian country, driven by the dread of war, misery and the revenge of the Taliban. Though the best route out of Afghanistan is as a result of its western border at Herat, the increase in checkpoint Taliban and the reinforcement of stability in Iran make this route challenging, which is why, as verified by much more than a dozen Afghans interviewed in latest days, smugglers prefer to cross them into Pakistan by means of the Dashti Margo (Desert of Death) of the province. southern Nimroz. The Pakistani Baluchistan, exactly where they get there, is a problematic area with activity by the Baloch insurgency and fundamentalist teams, but it is also the route utilised by drug traffickers to bring heroin to Iran, the similar route utilised for human trafficking.

“It is a very challenging journey, we had been in the desert, without having foods or water, and then it took us 48 hours to cross the mountains. [hacia Irán]”Explains Halil Rahman, a 16-year-previous Afghan:“ In Iran we were handed from zulo to zulo right until we arrived in Khoy [noroeste], and from there we crossed to Turkey ”. The journey lasts close to a month because, despite the fact that inside the nations around the world, the refugees are transported in vehicles, the borders are crossed on foot as a result of mountain ranges that exceed 2,000 meters of altitude. The cemeteries of the city of Van, the first they arrived in Turkey, show the harshness of the trip: useless from freezing, fallen, shot victims …

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On the border among Iran and Turkey, a gravel street and a new wall winding brightly in the sunshine, which the Turkish federal government 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 three meters large by 3 meters lengthy and that the trailers climb with problems, escorted by armored cars from the Turkish Armed Forces. The wall is advancing at 300 meters a working day and currently handles about half of the 534 kilometers of border that separates Iran from Turkey. “The Iranian army is performing very little to stop irregular migrants,” complains a Turkish formal to justify the want for the wall.

An Afghan refugee confirms this story. They are all compliments to the Iranian security forces: “They gave us blankets and cookies for the children.” On the other hand, he relates, the passage to Turkey was terrible: “The Turkish gendarmes beat us and took the cash 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 again to Iran. And the Iranians took us back again to Turkey. “

Various resources consulted maintain that the hot returns of Afghans to Iran have multiplied in current months and quite a few interviewed refugees declare to have been returned up to three or 4 situations. It is the exact same illegal apply that the Turkish authorities accuse Greece of on its western border: the regulations dictate that, ahead of being deported, asylum claims submitted by migrants need to be processed. Omurca denies that any one is currently being returned to Iran and promises that deportations to Afghanistan have also stopped given the country’s scenario (far more than 100,000 Afghans have been returned by Turkey to their state in recent a long time).

Thus, the Afghans who are presently captured are positioned in detention facilities for months although ready for their scenario to be clarified. They are remaining in “limbo”, denounces lawyer Mahmut Kaçan. For this explanation, and to prevent probable returns to Iran, “they test to escape to the west as quickly as attainable.” But it is not quick: the streets that direct out of Van have been filled with law enforcement checkpoints that must be circumvented by earning the route on foot, at night time, as a result of fields and mountains. In some cases they use smaller boats to sail the enormous Lake of Van and as a result reach the neighboring provinces Final yr a person of all those boats sank and its sixty occupants died.

Meanwhile, till it is their convert to escape from Van, they disguise. “They have disappeared from sight, until recently you saw them in strains on the avenue. Not now ”, points out the proprietor of a cafe in Van.

They slumber in secluded alleys, in deserted houses, less than bridges above dry streams, or in collectors. Even in cemeteries, since parks are no lengthier secure. Halit, 21, who has joined six other compatriots, complains that the night ahead of two adult men who posed as law enforcement officers robbed them and took them to an alley to lookup them: they took 500 lire (about 50 euros) and a Cellular telephone. Thieves and scammers are a frequent together the way, because how are those who are in a country illegally going to report?

“I have been waiting around for the trafficker for numerous days. I compensated him 300 bucks [254 euros] to just take me to Ankara [la capital de Turquía], but he has disappeared, ”laments Dost Mohammad, who lives in a home marked for demolition with his new friend, Abdulmatin, 17, who was robbed by robbers in Iran. Just about every time they hear a siren or a noise outside, they fearfully appear out the window, not the law enforcement or an individual who can report them.

The to start with objective of just about all Afghans is to achieve Istanbul. The Turkish megalopolis of far more than 17 million people today presents extra alternatives to go unnoticed and function. “In Turkey there are about 185,000 Afghans with short term protected standing and a further 120-140,000 in an irregular predicament. The previous have the ideal to operate, but only if the companies make the papers for them. Most businesses do not register them simply because 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 given the possibility, almost every person would desire to go to Europe or Canada ”.

Furthermore, the atmosphere in Turkey is a person of escalating hostility toward refugees, presented the sensitive economic problem that the country is going via, and the existence of almost four million Syrian refugees is probably to be perpetuated. Statements by a number of European leaders who have referred to as for Turkey to get treatment of Afghans fleeing their country (for case in point, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace proposed putting in facilities offshore to course of action the asylum purposes of Afghans in international locations this kind of as Pakistan or Turkey without even consulting Ankara very first) have only more unnerved spirits. The opposition has thrown by itself into the jugular of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, accusing him of remaining incapable of defending the borders and of turning the region into an immense refugee camp through magic formula 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 come, if we have not fought hard more than enough … racism is growing,” clarifies Hekmat.

Kavlak, from ASAM, acknowledges that it is becoming increasingly complicated for Turkey to host so quite a few refugees, but also criticizes the way in which Turkish media, artists and celebrities – via social media – and political events are dealing with the problem : “They give the picture that there is a excellent movement [migratorio] in direction of Turkey, but according to data the selection of newcomers is decrease than in the last a few a long time. […] This leads to a lot of people today who have under no circumstances seen an immigrant or refugee to establish damaging prejudices. So xenophobia and detest speech are on the increase ”.

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