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Tajikistan Says It's Ready To Shelter Up To 100,000 Refugees From Afghanistan

A camp for refugees near the Tajik city of Khorugh, close to the Afghan border.

DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan has said it is ready to shelter up to 100,000 refugees from neighboring Afghanistan amid increasing security concerns in Central Asia over the fallout of the Taliban's territorial gains in the northern part of the war-torn country.

Imomali Ibrohimzoda, the first deputy chief of the Committee for Emergency and Civil Defense, said on July 23 that if the number of Afghan refugees exceeds that number, Dushanbe will turn to international groups for help.

Ibrohimzoda added that the construction of two large food depots has started in the southern region of Khatlon as part of preparations for the possible influx of refugees.

According to Ibrohimzoda, 11 flights were organized in recent days to repatriate 1,600 Afghan citizens who entered Tajikistan to flee military clashes between Afghan government forces and Taliban militants.

Earlier this week, Khatlon regional Governor Qurbon Hakimzoda said that a temporary camp for refugees will be set up in the region's Jaihun district.

Hundreds of Afghans, including police and government troops, have fled the country in recent weeks and entered Tajikistan and neighboring Uzbekistan amid the Taliban offensive. The militants are said to have captured large swaths of the border regions since the start of the international military withdrawal on May 1.

Last week, almost 350 ethnic Kyrgyz shepherds from Afghanistan with their families and some 4,000 livestock entered Tajikistan. They have since been sent back to their village in Afghanistan after Kabul guaranteed their safety.

The United States has announced the withdrawal of all its forces by August 31. Earlier this month, U.S. forces vacated their largest base in Afghanistan at Bagram, north of Kabul.

The rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces, and the Taliban's battlefield successes, are stoking concerns that the Western-backed government in Kabul may collapse.