European Union justice and home affairs ministers are meeting on Tuesday to discuss the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the flow of refugees and migrants it is expected to engender.
The meeting comes the day after the last American forces left Kabul International Airport, ending the United States’ longest war.
The bloc of 27 countries is looking for ways to prevent a repeat of the 2015 refugee crisis fueled by civil war in Syria. The arrival in Europe of more than a million migrants that year led to internal disputes between EU member countries over how best to handle the influx. A new wave of migrants from Afghanistan threatens to exacerbate tensions.
The EU is likely to provide funds to house refugees in countries bordering Afghanistan to prevent them from heading to Europe.
“It is important that we are able to avoid a humanitarian crisis, a migration crisis and a security threat from Afghanistan,” EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said ahead of the ministers’ meeting.
“But then we must act now and not wait for large flows of people at our external borders or for terrorist organizations to be stronger,” she added. “That is why we must act now to support the people in Afghanistan, in neighboring countries, and to work with international organizations.”
The EU’s emphasis on welcoming migrants close to Afghanistan will not appeal to rights groups.
Amnesty International said in a letter to Johansson that the EU and its member countries “must refrain from extremely damaging responses that focus on keeping the EU’s border ‘protected’ and propose or adopt measures which shift the responsibility for the protection of refugees to third countries. . “
The human rights group said the EU should give Afghans who reach Europe “access to territory and to fair and efficient asylum procedures and adequate reception conditions” and also consider all Afghan women and girls as “prima facie refugees” because of the risks they would run. face in Afghanistan.
US forces helped evacuate more than 120,000 US citizens, foreigners and Afghans after the Taliban regained control of the country, according to the White House. Coalition forces also evacuated their citizens and Afghans. But foreign nations and the US government admitted that they had not evacuated everyone who wanted to leave.
According to some EU estimates, around 570,000 Afghans have applied for asylum in Europe since 2015.
Asylum claims from Afghan nationals have increased by a third since February, as it became clear that the United States would withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. More than 4,648 applications were registered in May, according to the EU asylum office. About half of the requests tend to be accepted.
Corder reported from The Hague, Netherlands.
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