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Countries around Afghanistan fear refugee crisis if U.S. pulls troops: report

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Countries around Afghanistan have been readying for the possibility that President Trump will withdraw thousands of U.S. troops from the nation, potentially setting off a refugee crisis, Reuters reported.

Diplomats from Afghanistan’s neighbors told Reuters that there are fears that a U.S. troop pullout could trigger hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee into their countries.

{mosads}“At this point, there is no clarity about the withdrawal, but we have to keep a clear action plan ready,” a senior Asian diplomat based in Kabul told Reuters. “The situation can turn from bad to worse very quickly.”

Trump has reportedly indicated he plans to ramp down U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan by pulling roughly half of the 14,000-strong force currently deployed there. A spokesman for the National Security Council said in late December that the president has not made a final decision about possible troop withdrawal.

Reports of a possible pullout come as the U.S. has ramped up peace talk efforts over the last several months.

Taliban representatives have indicated throughout the negotiation process that they do not intend to broker a deal with Afghanistan, but the Trump administration has insisted that any deal must be led by Afghan officials.

U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad last month met Taliban representatives to discuss issues around a future troop withdrawal and ceasefire proposals.

Afghanistan shares a border with Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China, and is the world’s second-biggest source of refugees, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 

Diplomats from the countries who have been in talks with U.S. officials in Kabul told Reuters they would increase border preparations in anticipation of refugees.

Pakistan is currently working on a fence for its 870-mile border with Afghanistan, as well as a 50,000 paramilitary force.

“Camps will be set up near the border to manage a fresh wave of Afghan refugees and illegal migrants and Afghans will not be allowed to set up illegal homes in Pakistan,” an official told the news outlet.

Iranian officials in Kabul, meanwhile, said they are working with the Afghan government to stop Afghans from entering the country.

“We don’t want to use violence to stop them, but a sudden U.S. pullout will lead to a crisis,” said an Iranian official. 

Tags Afghanistan Donald Trump Kabul refugees Taliban Withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan
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