Expect more Alan Kurdis as Afghans flee Taliban – columnist

Turkey and the European Union are making impossible for the Afghan refugees to enter their borders, which could cause a great tragedy, columnist David Lepeska wrote in the National on Monday.

The looming refugee crisis suggests that we should “prepare for more Alan Kurdis,” Lepeska wrote.

Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian refugee boy, whose body has washed up on a Turkish beach at the height of the 2015 migrant crisis, has become the symbol of refugee crises.

Alan’s family’s September 2015 journeyed across the Mediterranean, paying smugglers to take them from Turkey to Greece. Their journey ended in tragedy after their inflatable boat sank in rough seas. Eleven refugees died, including Alan’s mother and his brother, Ghalib.

The images of Alan, wearing a red t-shirt, blue shorts and black shoes and lying face-down in the surf, sparked outcry around the world and led to demands that more should be done to protect those making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.

Ankara received €6 billion ($7 billion) in refugee support from the European Union, by accepting the asylum-seekers rejected by the European countries and hosting some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, after reaching an agreement by the bloc to stop the refugee flow from Syria, Lepeska said.

“The EU now hopes to top up its refugee credit by handing Turkey €3 billion ($3.5 billion) more and with as many as a million Afghans looking to flee Taliban rule and potentially spark another refugee wave, EU officials have hinted at expanding the deal to include Afghans, suggesting Turkey as an ideal sanctuary,” he said.

But the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refused to be the “Europe’s refugee warehouse", Lepeska said.

While the EU wants to send Afghan people back, Turks feel much the same way, according to the columnist.

Sensing the political pressure from the opposition to halt any further influx of refugees, Turkey’s rulingJustice and Development Party (AKP) detained and returned thousands of Afghans and started to build a wall along its rugged border with Iran, he said.

The real action starts now, as perhaps a million Afghans will try to flee Taliban rule in their country, Lepeske wrote.

“Finding sanctuary may have been hard six years ago, but this time around it will be nearly impossible. This time, Europe and Turkey are ready,” he added.

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