We are facing new refugee wave after 30,000 Afghans arrive: Turkish government

Afghan refugees occupy the main square of the town of Mytilene on October 22, 2017 on the island of Lesvos, demanding their transfer to mainland and equal asylum rights. Some 200 Afghans left the overcrowded Moria hotspot and refused to leave the square for the second consecutive day. / AFP PHOTO / ANTHI PAZIANOU

Vastavam web: Nearly 30,000 Afghans have arrived in Turkey in the last three months, the Turkish government said today, after Amnesty International criticised the authorities “ruthless” decision to send more than 7,000 back to Afghanistan.Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 29,899 Afghans had crossed into Turkey since January compared to 45,259 people in the whole of 2017, state news agency Anadolu reported.

“In recent months, we are facing a new refugee wave, especially from Afghanistan,” Soylu said, adding that 1,328 people smugglers had been caught by April.”Thousands more are in detention, being treated more like criminals than people fleeing conflict and persecution,” Anna Shea, Amnesty researcher on refugee and migrants rights, said in a statement.

Migrants from Afghanistan and other countries affected by conflict and poverty often use Turkey as a transit country in the hope of reaching Europe.75,284 migrants have so far reached Turkey in 2018 compared with 172,745 last year, Soylu said in a speech in the southern city of Adana.In March 2016, Turkey signed an agreement with the European Union to stop the flow of refugees to Europe after the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.