Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz has said Turkey or safe parts of Afghanistan are more appropriate places for Afghans who want to flee in the wake of growing safety concerns due to a US decision to pull its troops out of the country.
Kurz’s remarks came during an interview with the “Die richtigen Fragen” (The right questions) program, which was aired by BILD-Talk on Sunday.
“We have to improve the situation on the ground. If people have to flee, then I would consider neighboring countries, Turkey or safe parts of Afghanistan, to be more appropriate places for people than Germany, Austria or Sweden,” Kurz said.
Following the US decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, a flow of migrants has reached Turkey’s borders through Iran due to fear of the Taliban, which is now the dominant force in the war-stricken country, further raising concerns about the increasing number of refugees in the country.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ June 30, 2021 Turkey Operational Update, Turkey hosts 4 million refugees and asylum seekers including more than 3.6 million Syrians under temporary protection status and close to 330,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers of other nationalities.
Kurz said he is worried about the US decision to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, adding that Austria is small and does not have the same resources as other countries.
Last week outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel made similar remarks about Turkey’s hosting of Syrian refugees.
“Turkey is doing an excellent job of taking care of Syrian refugees. We provided support to Turkey, but of course, that was a small amount,” she said referring to EU financial pledges as part of a 2016 refugee deal.
“I would like this agreement with Turkey to be further developed; this would be the best for the affected people,” she added.
Both Merkel and Kurz’s statements have led to criticism in Turkey, with many accusing the European leaders of not doing enough to deal with the refugee flow from war or poverty-stricken countries and putting more responsibility on the shoulders of Turkey.