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Turkey Faces 'New Refugee Wave' After Nearly 30,000 Afghans Arrive

Refugees arrive in Turkey along a route to the west, in Erzurum, on April 24.
Refugees arrive in Turkey along a route to the west, in Erzurum, on April 24.

Turkey says nearly 30,000 Afghans have entered the country since the start of the year, in what Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu called "a new refugee wave."

Soylu said on April 25 that 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 detained so far this year.

Turkey is a key transit route for migrants from Afghanistan and other countries in Asia and the Middle East seeking to reach Europe in search of better lives and work.

Rights groups have criticized Ankara for deporting migrants back to conflict-torn countries such as Afghanistan, saying it was putting their lives at risk.

Turkish authorities have sent back 7,100 Afghan migrants since early April, Amnesty International said on April 24, as it denounced the "ruthless deportation drive."

"Thousands more are in detention, being treated more like criminals than people fleeing conflict and persecution," the London-based rights group said in a statement.

There are 145,000 Afghans in Turkey, according to Amnesty,

The country is also home to more than 3 million Syrian refugees, as well as more than 300,000 Iraqis, who have fled conflicts in their respective countries.

Turkey has started work on a border wall along its frontier with Iran, which is being crossed by migrants coming from the east. It also built a wall along much of the border with Syria.

With reporting by AFP and dpa
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