(Brussels) The 27 of the EU tried on Tuesday in Brussels to find a consensus to help the neighboring countries of Afghanistan, who are taking in refugees fleeing the Taliban, and to harmonize the acceptance criteria on the continent in order to achieve an influx comparable to that of 2015.
Posted on Aug 31, 2021 at 9:26 am
Anne-Laure MONDESERT Agence France-Presse
“It is important that we are able to avoid a humanitarian crisis, a migration crisis and security threats from Afghanistan,” said EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson upon arrival at the meeting of interior ministers.
“But we must act now and not wait for people to pour in at our external borders or reinforce terrorist organizations,” added the Swedish official.
“Everyone wants to avoid a situation like 2015 and we can avoid it, we are much better prepared,” said the home affairs commissioner, who also stressed the importance of working with the rest of the international community, people who were brought in by the Taliban Afghanistan are threatened.
However, no quantified commitment from member states to accept Afghan refugees is expected at Tuesday’s meeting, she said. But by mid-September, the 27 had to submit commitments to “relocate” refugees regardless of their nationality, as part of a standard procedure that provided for more than 30,000 places in EU countries by 2020.
Ministers must agree to a declaration that will help Afghanistan’s neighboring countries take in refugees from this country, which has been in the hands of the Taliban since mid-August.
In the draft text submitted to AFP, Member States say they are “determined to act together to prevent the return of large-scale illegal and uncontrolled migratory movements”, as in 2015, when Europe was affected by the arrival of more than a million migrants, most of whom fled , the war in Syria was overwhelmed.
The UN expects half a million more Afghan refugees in 2021.
The EU pledges to “step up support” to Afghanistan’s neighbors, which are hosting large numbers of migrants and refugees, in order to increase their ability to provide protection, dignified and safe reception conditions and sustainable livelihoods. The aim is to “ensure adequate protection for those in need, especially in the region”.
Member States are also concerned about the risk of terrorism and promise to “do everything possible to ensure that the situation in Afghanistan does not create new security risks for EU citizens”. They concentrate on “the timely implementation of security checks on evacuees from Afghanistan,” according to the draft statement.
As Interior Minister, “our main responsibility is to protect EU citizens from terrorist attacks,” said Slovenian Minister Ales Hojs, whose country holds the rotating EU Council Presidency.
“Wash your hands”
“You see what is happening in Kabul all the time, we cannot be sure that something like this can no longer happen in Europe in the future,” he commented.
For their part, human rights organizations have blown the 27 approach, with Oxfam accusing European governments of “washing their hands of their international obligation to give refuge to those who seek safety and dump them in other countries”.
“While support from Afghanistan’s neighbors is essential, European countries cannot keep Afghans in check, but must instead take the lead to host those who are fleeing for their lives,” said Erin McKay of the NGO.
Amnesty International has also urged EU countries “not to shift responsibility for protecting refugees to third countries”.