Turkey criticises US statement on resettlement of Afghans

Ankara has said it will not 'undertake a new migration crisis on behalf of a third country'

Turkey on Tuesday criticised a US programme that would offer potential resettlement to Afghans who may be targets of Taliban violence due to their US affiliations, saying the move would cause a “great migration crisis” in the region.

The State Department on Monday announced a new programme under which thousands more Afghans will have a chance to resettle as refugees in the US.

Afghans would have to make their own way to a third country, where they will wait 12 to 14 months for their applications to be processed.

A senior State Department official said Washington had been in discussion with neighbouring countries on potential outflows, and added that it was important that Pakistan's borders with Afghanistan remain open, while others might travel to Turkey via Iran.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said that it rejected a reference to Turkey as a migration route for Afghans, and added that Turkey — the world's leading host for refugees with more than four million migrants — would not “undertake a new migration crisis on behalf of a third country".

“We do not accept the irresponsible decision taken by the United States without consulting our country. If the United States wants to take these people to its country, it is possible to transfer them directly to their country by planes,” the ministry said.

“No one should expect the Turkish nation to bear the burden of the migration crises experienced as a result of the decisions of third countries in our region,” it added.

Hundreds of Afghans have crossed into Turkey in recent weeks amid rising violence in Afghanistan, raising concerns of a fresh influx of migrants.

Ties between Ankara and Washington have been strained over a host of issues, including Ankara's move to purchase Russian defence equipment as well as legal issues and policy differences in Syria, Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Ankara has offered to guard and operate Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport after US and allied forces withdraw from Afghanistan in a move that could create an area for co-operation between the Nato allies.

Updated: August 4th 2021, 12:28 AM