Expecting the E.U. to stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan

Reshad Jalali and his family eventually fled for Europe in 2006. Now Jalali faces his biggest disappointment of all, watching the Taliban return to the streets of his home country while many in his adopted continent appear more consumed by the potential for another refugee crisis, rather than in the fate of the Afghan people.

“As an Afghan living in Europe, I’m shocked at what I have heard,”

says Jalali, who now lives in Brussels and works as a Policy Officer at the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, a collective of NGOs.

“I was expecting the E.U. to stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan rather than focusing on the narrow topic of migration.”

We may not overlook the fact that the European Union has a huge stake in Afghanistan’s past and future, given than most E.U. member states are also NATO allies and they have together pumped €4 billion in development aid into the country.

How its leaders now respond to the prospect of rising numbers of Afghan refugees will be a key test of how the bloc has absorbed the lessons of 2015, when the Syrian civil war sparked a movement of more than 1 million people into Europe.

writes Charlotte McDonald-Gibson in Time Magzine.

So far, the European response has oscillated between compassion for the fate of ordinary Afghans trapped under Taliban rule, and fear at the potential consequences at home. This was typified by French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech on Monday evening, when he spoke about both the need to

“protect those who are in the greatest danger” and “protect ourselves against large migratory flows”.

The tone had been set earlier in the month, when the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, and Greece sent a letter to the E.U. executive urging them to continue deportations of Afghans with rejected asylum claims, arguing that halting expulsions “sent the wrong signal”.

The six EU member states have warned the bloc’s executive against halting deportations of rejected Afghan asylum seekers arriving in Europe despite major advances of Taliban militants in their country. Those countries agree that

“Stopping returns sends the wrong signal and is likely to motivate even more Afghan citizens to leave their home for the EU.” {Austria, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece and Germany said in an Aug. 5 letter to the European Commission.}

The insensitivity of the letter at a time when the Taliban were marching on Kabul sparked outcry, and some signatories backtracked. But it was reflective of the increasingly hostile policies in place since 2015, when Europe’s mismanagement of the crisis caused a surge in support for far-right and nationalist parties.

This new security-driven approach has seen E.U- backed missions accused of returning people to life-threatening situations in Libya and illegally pushing back boats which had reached Greek waters.

Afghans arriving in Europe bore the brunt of many of these harsher policies, with leaders reasoning that fatigue had set in about the “forever war” and Afghans could be sent back without much outcry.

Since 2015, around 570,000 Afghans have requested asylum in the EU, the letter from the six EU countries noted, 44,000 in 2020 alone, making Afghanistan the second most important country of origin last year. Strangely enough in the letter the countries admit that they

“fully recognise the sensitive situation in Afghanistan in light of the foreseen withdrawal of international troops.”

They added that an estimated 4.6 million Afghans were already displaced, many of them in the region. A senior EU official said some 400,000 Afghans have been internally displaced over recent months and in recent days there has been an increase in numbers of people fleeing to Iran.

In some cases, people forcibly returned to Afghanistan were killed within months of arriving.

It is through this prism that the Taliban takeover is viewed in much of Europe, with fierce debate over the likelihood of another refugee crisis. Former Portuguese diplomat Bruno Macaes, writing in Politico, claimed another refugee wave “now seems inevitable”, citing Afghan diplomats who told him:

“nothing can stop them – not even tanks”.

“We should have learned from the past crisis and be mobilized to swiftly react to the situation now,”

says Reshad Jalali. He agrees that supporting displaced people in Afghanistan and the surrounding region is key, but also points to measures that could be implemented immediately within the E.U, including approving all pending asylum decisions for Afghans, speeding up family reunions, and creating more pathways for resettlement.

 

Please read more about it: > Europe Sees a Migration Crisis in the Making in Afghanistan. Have the Lessons of the 2015 Surge Been Learned?

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Preceding

Grounded

Refugees At The Border- A Blessing Or Burden?

Bringers of agony, Trained in Belgium and Syria

The Iranian American Frieda Afary looking with (republican?) American eyes at Iran

Taliban conquest of Afghanistan a clock to turn back years

Worse Than Saigon

Afghanistan: international community statement

Afghan filmmaker Sahraa Karimi

Afghanistan — What It Tells You

A reminder to what could happen to Christians in Afghanistan

Moving heaven and earth to get every last American in Afghanistan back to American soil

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Additional reading

  1. If Europe fails on the question of refugees, then it won’t be the Europe we wished for
  2. Social media a destabilisation tool in the Middle East and Syrian conflict
  3. Is ISIS a product of American in-action or a product of direct action
  4. Refugee crisis, terrorist attacks and created fear
  5. Islamophobic hate crimes rise in UK following terror attacks
  6. Summary for the year 2015 #1 Threat and fear
  7. 2015 In the Picture
  8. At the closing hours of 2016 #1 Looking down at terror
  9. 2016 in review Politics #2 Persons of the year

8 Comments

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8 responses to “Expecting the E.U. to stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan

  1. Pingback: These days of August thinking of our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan – Belgian Ecclesia Brussel – Leuven

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