MOr half a century ago, Anatolian settlers migrated to this area north of Fort Hill, Ankara, in search of work. Today, every second person living on Altindak Street is from Afghanistan. The simple cesspool houses built by immigrants at that time still stretch sloping. In most parts of Ankara they have been replaced by modern apartment buildings, but here they are inhabited by Afghans. Because living anywhere in Ankara is not cheap. Five hundred Afghan families can rent. Mustafa earns his living at the end of a back alley. Young Afghanistan starts his work at six in the morning and turns off the light at nine in the evening. Every day he bakes 1,500 Afghanistan-style flatbreads in a stone oven, earning the equivalent of 250 euros a month.
According to unofficial information, more than half a million Afghans live in Turkey. Almost all ethnic groups in Afghanistan are represented – Uzbeks, Hazaras, Tajiks. Not just adults, but Pashtuns. Uzbek Afghanistan in Ankara says they have fled to the Taliban or Pakistan. One restaurant on Main Street is called Kabul, the other is named after the historical name of the Persian-Afghan cultural region of Korazan. Two flags, Afghan and Turkish, are nowhere to be seen. The narrow Bahar market is not even above the entrance of the spice market. He only serves Afghanistan, Afghanistan rice, cumin, marrow and other pulses. There are still enough ingredients. But since the Taliban came to power, supplies from Afghanistan have dried up, the operator tells the translator. He does not speak Turkish.
No illegal migration in winter
The number of refugees entering Turkey is also low. In the years leading up to the epidemic, more Afghans arrived than these days, says Erdem Aisek, an NGO called MSYD, which was founded in 2015 and cares for immigrants and refugees across the country. The private aid company has a center nearby that distributes food and clothing to those in need. In 2019, 454,662 illegal immigrants – the largest group of Afghans – came to Turkey, according to Aiszek. In general, Afghan asylum seekers formed the second largest refugee group after the Syrians.
In winter, when the snow on the Turkish-Iranian border is five to six meters high, irregular migration from the east almost stops. Experts are concerned that it will not be possible to provide assistance to those in need in Afghanistan at the time. They expect another migration to increase as the snow melts again in the spring and as the situation worsens in Afghanistan.
The fact that the influx of irregular immigrants has been lower than expected in recent months is primarily the result of improved border security. The new wall built on the 534-kilometer border played a small part in this. So far, a three-meter-high wall has been built at a distance of thirty kilometers, and it is built of barbed wire. It would be very useful to call the border immigrants, record their data and then increase the number of border guards pushing them to Iran. Visitors returning from the border have no illusions. “Experience shows that after a few days they use another path and try another path,” says one. “Then they’re afraid of buried landmines and run back across the green line into the rankings.”
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