ISTANBUL – Turkey has called for concerted international action to address the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Turkey has already warned that as it hosts the largest number of refugees in the world, it will no longer be able to take it.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevl কাt Cavusoglu warned at a high-level UN meeting in Afghanistan on Monday that it was time to take concerted action as millions of Afghans were displaced and facing a humanitarian crisis.
A humanitarian and security crisis in Afghanistan will have a direct impact on the world. So, we should take concerted action now.
As refugees flee Afghanistan to Europe, Turkish leaders fear Afghans will flee their territory.
Last week, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi paid a four-day visit to Turkey and praised the country for accepting nearly four million refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war.
Under an agreement with the European Union, Turkey receives billions of dollars in aid to host Syrians.
Some EU leaders have already suggested extending the agreement to include Afghans, claiming that refugees should be housed closer to their place of origin.
But Turkey’s main opposition party, the CHP, has been sharply critical of the government’s refugee policy.
“This is a record of serious mismanagement. It was just a transactional relationship between Turkey and the European Union,” said Unal Savicoz, a CHP parliamentary deputy. “And they just wanted to stop the flow of refugees to Turkey with some financial aid. The majority of the Turkish population thinks that the burden of understanding is not being distributed fairly among the international community, and we fear that the same mismanagement will continue in Afghanistan.”
Senior EU officials visited Ankara last week to discuss the refugee agreement with Turkey. Ankara has insisted it can no longer accept refugees and called on the EU to share the burden.
Some analysts say Ankara needs money from Europe, but international relations expert Sol Ozil says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will need more than financial incentives to convince his people.
“He has to show the country something more than just money, and that is visa liberalization, which I don’t [think] Europeans are able to supply, ”Ozil said.
Visa-free travel for Turks in the European Union was part of the original Syrian refugee agreement, but has so far been blocked by some EU members.
With Erdogan’s rating record low in opinion polls and the same election indicating strong public opposition to accepting Afghan refugees, analysts predict that a new EU refugee agreement with Turkey will be fraught with political risks and difficult for the Turkish leader.