Turkey deporting undocumented Afghans, many being ex-ANDSF members

The number of Afghan refugees deported from Turkey back to Afghanistan has been on the rise in the last few weeks, but recently, former members of the Afghan national defence and security forces (ANDSF) are also among them.

The specific number of former ANDSF members deported by the Turkish government is not known, but Amu spoke with at least three of them, who said they were sent back to Afghanistan in the last three months, along with other military members.

According to the three former ANDSF members, they were deported to Afghanistan on two separate flights in the last three months, both of which included their comrades.

The ex-security force members requested that their names be used as aliases in this report.

Jawad, one of them, said he went to Iran first, following the fall of the previous government, and then to Turkey, while his last destination was Europe.

“The Turkish police asked me why I was here. I didn’t have legal documents. I told them I was a military personnel and my life was at risk and now I wanted to go to Europe. But the police tightened the grip of my hands and kept me in a prison-like place for some days, where other Afghans were also kept, and finally, we were sent to Afghanistan,” Jawad explained.

Jawad’s story is similar to that of other ex-ANDSF members who fled to Turkey in search of safety, though many lacked legal documents.

“I went to Turkey alone, and my family was in Badakhshan. I am back in Kabul now but I cannot return to Badakhshan because my safety and my family’s life are in danger there,” Mukhtar, another member of former Afghan security forces, said.

Abdullah, who was a member of a commando unit of the Afghan army under the republic government, said he was also deported from Turkey and is living a difficult life in Kabul.

Abdullah said he lives anonymously in Kabul because he fought against the Taliban in various provinces for five years.

“I am not sure how long I would be able to live this way… I shared all these with the Turkish police but they didn’t listen,” he said.

Unofficial figures show there are more than 600,000 undocumented Afghans in Turkey, which is the second biggest host for Afghan refugees after Iran and Pakistan.

Two sources aware of the matter said that the Turkish government has undertaken a mission to collect all undocumented Afghan refugees ahead of its elections and has asked its consulates to process applicants’ visas. Moreover, at least 14,300 Afghans have received stay documents in recent months, according to the sources.

According to more sources, the Taliban has asked the Turkish government to return Afghan refugees to Kabul, even though the Taliban recognises the returnees’ identities.
Amu’s question about this claim was not answered by the Taliban.

The Taliban last month said a team had been sent to Turkey to assess Afghan refugees’ situation there and hold meetings with Turkish officials.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International confirmed that Afghan refugees whose lives are at risk in Afghanistan have been expelled from Turkey.

“Amnesty International has asked all countries that no Afghan should be deported because their safety might be at risk in Afghanistan,” said Zaman Sultani, a researcher at Amnesty International.

Four Afghan refugees told Amu on August 24 that migrants from Afghanistan often face “inhuman and violent treatment” by the Turkish police in recent months.

Figures by a refugee association for Afghans in Turkey show that the Turkish government has deported at least 40,000 Afghan migrants via charter flights since January.

Information by the refugees’ ministry of the Taliban shows that at least 623,000 Afghans have returned to the country from Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan over the past year.

The main reasons for the unprecedented level of migration from Afghanistan in the year since the previous government’s fall have been a lack of jobs, security, and freedoms.