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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about refugee programmes for Afghans who aided the US during a briefing at the State Department in Washington August 2, 2021. ― Brendan Smialowski/Pool via Reuters
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about refugee programmes for Afghans who aided the US during a briefing at the State Department in Washington August 2, 2021. ― Brendan Smialowski/Pool via Reuters

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ANKARA, Aug 4 ― Turkey yesterday criticised a US programme to 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 US State Department on Monday announced a new programme under which thousands more Afghans will have a chance to resettle as refugees in the United States. Afghans in the progamme would have to make their own way to a third country, where they will wait 12 to 14 months for their application to be processed.

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

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement 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 4 million migrants ― would not “undertake a new migration crisis on behalf of a third country”.

“As Turkey, 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, from Ankara’s move to purchase Russian defence equipment to 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 the US and Nato withdrawal from Afghanistan, in a move that could create an area for cooperation between the Nato allies. ― Reuters

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