Tajikistan says ready to accept 100,000 Afghan refugees
July 24, 2021 12:04 AM
Tajikistan said Friday it was ready to accept up to 100,000 refugees from Afghanistan, where the Taliban has claimed huge military gains as US-led troops withdraw.
The ex-Soviet Central Asian country is working with international organisations to prepare for an influx of Afghans, the deputy head of Tajikistan's emergencies committee Emomali Ibrokhimzoda told a press briefing.
Ibrokhimzoda said it was "currently possible to receive and place about 100,000 refugees from Afghanistan" at military training grounds in the country.
Tajikistan is storing tents, bedding and other materials for potential refugees, Ibrokhimzoda said, adding it could absorb more refugees if necessary.
Earlier this week the Taliban claimed to be in control of over 90 percent of Afghanistan's borders -- which the government dismissed as a lie on Friday.
Tajikistan shares a border of around 1,300 kilometres (810 miles) with Afghanistan. The Taliban took control of the main crossing with Tajikistan in June.
Tajikistan has already provided temporary shelter to more than 1,000 Afghan government troops forced to retreat under fire from the militants.
On Thursday it checked the combat readiness of its soldiers in the biggest such exercise ever in the country, while Russian tanks arrived at training grounds near the border with Afghanistan ahead of joint army drills.
The tanks were deployed from Moscow's base in Tajikistan, whose neighbour Uzbekistan is expected to join the two countries for the drills that begin on August 5.
Russian foreign ministry official Zamir Kabulov said in a Thursday interview to the Ekho Moskvy radio station that the drills would be a "signal" to Central Asian populations that the situation in Afghanistan will not threaten the region.