Turkey’s “new” refugee reality: Nearly half of all refugees are now coming from Afghanistan

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Translated by Leo Kendrick

Turkey’s security forces have detained 120,000 refugees in 2020. Up to 50,000 came from Afghanistan. Looking at the yearly numbers, 2019 saw over 200,000 Afghan refugees come to Turkey, while 2014 saw just 12,248. Different groups continue to pass through a variety of routes at the Iranian border. Now, there is a new surge and anti-refugee sentiments continue to grow stronger in Turkey.


Images of Afghan refugees in Van Province’s Özalp district have restarted the refugee debate in Turkey. 
Here’s a yearly breakdown of Afghan refugees crossing into Turkey, all of them illegally:
2014: 12,248

2015: 35,921

2016: 31,360

2017: 45,259

2018: 100,841

2019: 201,437

2020: 50,161

2021: As of 7 July, 25,643 Afghan refugees have been detained.

Of 31,000 protection applications, 22,000 are Afghan

Afghan refugees represent a disproportionate share of international protection applications received in Turkey. According to data from 2020, Afghans made up 22,606 out of 31,334 total submitted applications. 
Afghans make up the 8th-largest group of resident permit-holding refugees in Turkey, following Iraqi, Turkmen, Syrian, Iranian, Uzbeki, Azeri, and Russian nationals.

From a peak of 44,527,385 in 2019, the number of entrances to Turkey fell to 12,678,000 in 2020. 
On the Turkey-Iran border, Afghan refugees continue to cross daily. According to sources from the region, the number of crossings have not diminished with the spread of news and images on the topic, and alternative crossing routes have been created.

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