Turkey turns against migrants amid fears of Afghan refugee crisis

The Afghan diaspora in Turkey lives in fear: xenophobic sentiments have reached an all-time high as migrants are blamed for many of the country’s woes. And politicians are trying to cash in on these popular sentiments

Turkey turns against migrants amid fears of Afghan refugee crisis

Turkey has been hosting one of the world’s largest migrant populations since 2016, when it made an agreement with the European Union to help solve the so-called refugee crisis – in exchange for money. The country is believed to be home to nearly five million refugees, many of whom have largely fled Syria. Their reception has been mixed at best, with xenophobia against those of Arab origin widespread in Turkey.

The country’s economic instability in recent years, greatly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has only exacerbated the situation: rapid currency devaluation and inflation have affected virtually every household.

Many Turks are outraged that migrants and refugees are celebrating their new-found freedom, like those Afghans in Izmir, while Turkish citizens are forced to endure a serious economic crisis.

Now some members of the public are openly expressing their disapproval, using migrants as a convenient scapegoat: Public discontent with migrants and refugees could be seen on national TV screens last week when thousands of football fans began chanting “we don’t want any refugees in our country” during a World Cup qualifying match.

A poll published by Turkey’s Aksoy found 85% of respondents were “worried” about the prospect of another mass arrival of migrants – this time it will be Afghans fleeing the Taliban, who seized power in the country last month after 20 years of war.

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