MESOP NEWS : AFGHAN FENCES Turkey bolsters special ops division at border to block Afghan migrants

AHVAL – Aug 24 2021 Turkey has intensified security measures at its border with Iran to stem the flow of Afghans fleeing the Taliban.

A special operations division of the Security Directorate has received night vision cameras, dozens of armoured vehicles, drones, thermal cameras and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to keep the Iranian border secure, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday.

All technological means are being used to stop migrants from crossing into Turkey, even during the dark of night, Anadolu said, citing Hüseyin Ediz Tercanoğlu, head of the security division.

Turkey, which hosts about 4 million refugees, mostly from war-torn Syria, has vowed to prevent a latest wave of migration from Afghanistan. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is facing growing political pressure from opposition politicians, who are adopting a hard line on migration, and a population who are increasingly unhappy with the presence of refugees in the country.

“We will continue taking all steps necessary to ensure stability in our region, to protect our country against the pressure of migration, and to ensure the peace of our nation,” Erdoğan said on Twitter on Monday.

Erdoğan said he had spoken with seven key political leaders around the world on the issue, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Charles Michel, president of the European Council.

Europe fears that the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan will trigger a surge of migration across Iran and Turkey. Erdoğan has ruled out housing the refugees, saying his country will not act as a “migrant storage unit” for Europe.

“Turkey is not a concentration camp, a refugee camp. This is not an inn travellers stop at. The Republic of Turkey is in charge of its borders,” Ömer Çelik, the spokesman for Erdoğan’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), said at a press conference in Ankara on Monday, according to Anadolu.

Turkey is building a three-metre-high wall along the Iranian border and plans to add a further 67 kilometres of the fortifications by the end of the year. Construction began in 2017.

“We want to show the whole world that our borders are unpassable,” Mehmet Emin Bilmez, governor of the eastern province of Van, which borders Iran, told Reuters at the weekend. “Our biggest hope is that there is no migrant wave from Afghanistan.”

Greece has just constructed a 40-kilometre fence along its border with Turkey, complete with a an advanced surveillance system, to halt the flow of migrants.