September 04, 2021 – 23:09
Turkey is tightening border security barriers with Iran, largely to prevent the possibility of a large influx of refugees from Afghanistan, reports VOA correspondent Heather Murdoch. However, for many refugees, walls, trenches and barbed wire are more obstacles that they say they have no choice but to face.
Most of these boys and men fled Afghanistan a few weeks ago as the Taliban took control of the country.
To reach Turkey, many of them walked along Iran and passed through barbed wire and trenches.
Some flee as journalists see them, fearing they are police officers who could arrest them and return them to Iran, from where they crossed the border.
“My friend called me and said, ‘The police arrested us, beat us and sent us back to Iran after we arrived in Turkey.’ When people call me from Afghanistan I tell them not to try this way. “It is difficult and dangerous,” said Omar Naseri, an Afghan refugee.
Turkey is also expanding the three-meter-high border wall with Iran, mainly to prevent more refugees from entering.
The Turkish state hosts over 4 million refugees and asylum seekers, more than any other country in the world. Many Turks see this as a burden on the country’s economy.
But the refugees say they chose not to leave the country, their properties and often their families.
Last month, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, ahead of the planned US withdrawal after 20 years of war.
Across the country, people fled for fear that the group would mistreat and execute civilians as they did in the 1990s for several reasons.
The most at risk are those who worked for the US military, or the Afghan army, which had international support.
Frightened are also Shiite Muslims, or women, who want to work and attend school.
After the Taliban took Kabul, they announced plans to rule Afghanistan in a more moderate way compared to their previous rule.
But after decades of violence and fear, many refugees do not believe the new Taliban government will be less brutal.
“The Taliban invaded my country, there was a war. “We could not live there, so I had to leave,” said Najila, an Afghan refugee.
This boy cut his leg in barbed wire while crossing the border. 20 days later, the wounds are still untreated while he has no disinfectant. The group is hungry and exhausted as it secretly moves from one place to another, a day after escaping capture by police.
They say they cannot seek medical help for fear of arrest.
Other refugees say the wall, barbed wire and trenches are not the most difficult obstacles they face.
“Two or three people approached us with weapons and knives. They threatened us by demanding our things. “If we give it to them, we will suffer because we are left without supplies,” said Saboon, an Afghan refugee.
Most of the refugees VOA spoke to have experienced robbery, beatings, or abductions. But, they say they had no other choice, either to follow this path, or to wait for death at home./VOA