At a time when Ankara is accusing Greece of illegally pushing migrants back, Turkey has forcibly deported 215 undocumented Afghan migrants back to Kabul from Istanbul today on several flights.
Turkey on Monday accused Greece of pushing a boat carrying migrants out of Greek territorial waters and back into Turkish ones.
The defence ministry in Ankara said the incident occurred on Sunday near Rhodes, and posted drone footage on social media that it said showed the coast guard pulling the boat into Turkish waters near the southwestern resort of Marmaris.
Reuters was not immediately able to verify the authenticity of the footage, which shows the occupants of one boat attaching a rope from its stern to a small rubber dinghy, which the boat then tows in reverse before detaching from it and moving off.
However, while Ankara points its fingers at Greece, undocumented Afghanis are now waiting to be deported back to Kabul and were transferred from Edirne to Istanbul, ANI reported.
As per the reports by the Turkish Migration Management Directorate, almost 28,000 undocumented migrants have been deported from Turkey by Turkish authorities since the start of 2022, which showcases a 70 per cent rise in the number since 2021.
Turkey has deported over 18,256 Afghan nationals to Afghanistan, since the commencement of flights to Afghanistan started from January 27, according to the Turkish Interior Ministry.
The irregular migrants entered the country unlawfully, broke visa and residency laws, worked without permits, engaged in fraud, and threatened public safety and security, the Migration Management Directorate said in a statement.
Nine charter flights scheduled between May 15 and May 22 carried 1,054 undocumented migrants back to Afghanistan, according to the migration office.
Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on August 15 last year, tens of thousands of Afghans mostly youth have resorted to dangerous ways to get out of the war-torn nation.
Earlier in June, a total of 136 undocumented Afghan refugees who sought shelter in Turkey were deported back to Afghanistan while being subjected to stringent security measures.
However, International refugee law clearly states that it is unlawful to deport asylum applicants without first hearing and deciding their case.
Turkey is home to 4 million refugees, including 3.6 million Syrians, according to official statistics.
Since the Taliban took over in mid-August last year, Afghanistan has not only seen a mass exodus but also the illegal crossings of Afghans into neighbouring countries like Iran via Nimroz province and Turkey.
More than 653,000 Afghan refugees have returned or been deported to Afghanistan mainly from neighbouring countries since August 2021, according to official figures from the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation.
Although the fighting in the country has ended, Afghanistan’s situation has been deteriorating as serious human rights violations continue unabated. Earlier, UNHCR asked the European Union to accept 42,500 Afghans over five years but the request was resisted by the countries.