Brussels, Belgium – It has been two months since Kabul fell to the Taliban and 1000’s are nonetheless attempting to flee Afghanistan, looking for refuge.
The United Nations’ refugee company, UNHCR, lately warned that by the top of 2021, the humanitarian disaster might displace half one million extra Afghans because it referred to as on international locations to maintain their borders open.
However for European Union members, this warning introduced flashbacks of the 2015 migration disaster, delaying a unified response on Afghan asylum.
“Again then, the EU was caught fully abruptly by the arrival of so many refugees,” Jeff Crisp, analysis affiliate on the College of Oxford’s Refugee Research Centre and affiliate fellow at Chatham Home, instructed Al Jazeera. “Now with the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan, the precedence of the EU is to stop a repeat of that situation.”
With the ghosts of the previous influencing present migration choices, European Commissioner Margaritis Schinas, who has been coordinating the bloc’s work on a migration and asylum pact, lately revealed a brand new report highlighting the EU’s plan to provoke a “regional political platform of cooperation with Afghanistan’s direct neighbours”, to deal with the migration disaster.
“If we have now learnt something lately, it needs to be that flying solo on these points shouldn’t be an choice,” Schinas instructed reporters in Brussels on September 29.
Based on Crisp, the thrust of Europe’s asylum coverage has at all times been to externalise the administration of refugees.
“The help the EU has offered the Libyan coastguard and international locations like Turkey to restrict the variety of individuals crossing the Mediterranean Sea to succeed in European borders prior to now, is one thing some EU leaders would possibly argue has been useful for migration administration. However it’s the truth is extraordinarily costly and undermines primary human rights ideas,” he mentioned.
On the top of the refugee disaster in 2015-2016, the EU struck a cope with Turkey in 2016, beneath which the union allotted six billion euros ($6.96bn), paid in two instalments, to Turkey, for Ankara to cease Syrian migrants from crossing into European borders.
Comparable cooperation is as soon as once more within the works.
“We mentioned challenges ensuing from the scenario in Afghanistan and different areas of concern – challenges that may solely be solved by working collectively,” tweeted Ylva Johansson, the EU Commissioner for Dwelling Affairs, after her current go to to Ankara.
Catherine Woollard, director of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), argues that persevering with externalisation on this method, is a flaw within the EU’s migration technique.
“We have now to transcend the cash. As part of the EU-Turkey deal of 2016, Turkey was capable of assemble boundaries at its border with Syria and stop Syrians from leaving. This additionally gave Turkey the ability to do what it desires in Syria with out opposition or response from EU international locations.
“So whereas EU cash and safety is given in trade for migration controls, such an externalisation technique provides leverage to international locations which can be additionally taking part in a task in producing the displacement of individuals,” she mentioned.
Unclear resettlement pledges
Since August, the EU has managed to evacuate round 22,000 individuals from Afghanistan to 24 member states.
They primarily included EU officers and their dependents, in addition to Afghans who helped EU operations within the nation.
Since then, international locations reminiscent of Eire have additionally begun an Afghan Admission Programme which facilitates household reunifications. Italy has proposed creating humanitarian corridors with Afghanistan’s neighbours and admitting Afghans instantly from there.
“Our work shouldn’t be over. The president of the European Fee, Ursula von der Leyen, has referred to as on all member states to offer ample resettlement quotas and safe pathways,” an EU spokesperson instructed Al Jazeera.
At a high-level Resettlement Discussion board on Afghanistan organised by the EU on October 7, the UNHCR requested EU members to absorb 42,500 Afghans over the subsequent 5 years.
Although Commissioner Johansson mentioned this was doable, there have been no precise commitments from EU international locations.
“It’s placing to see that the US dedicated 100,000 international locations of resettlement, Canada and UK dedicated to 40,000 and 20,000 respectively. However from the EU’s aspect, we have now no determine in any respect. It’s pressing for the EU to behave now and be extra accountable in entrance of the disaster,” mentioned Philippe Dam, Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) advocacy director for Europe and Central Asia.
In the meantime, anti-migrant rhetoric and motion continues in some EU international locations, with current investigations revealing violent pushbacks alongside the bloc’s exterior borders in Croatia, Romania and Greece.
“It’s not unlawful for individuals to cross borders and search safety. It’s also prohibited beneath worldwide regulation to deal with individuals in a different way primarily based on how they arrive and declare that their methodology of arrival is against the law,” mentioned Woollard.
However as Afghans already within the bloc have additionally seen their asylum functions rejected, HRW’s Dam mentioned: “It’s not protected to deport Afghans again to the nation. We’re calling on the EU to revoke the momentary safety directive which might grant on the spot safety to Afghans in want.”
The momentary safety directive is a unprecedented measure utilized by the EU to offer safety to displaced individuals who can’t return to their nation of origin as a consequence of conflicts or humanitarian causes.
Talking to journalists after the Afghanistan Resettlement Discussion board, Johansson mentioned that she didn’t see the necessity to revoke this directive at current because the migration inflow from Afghanistan to the EU was not alarming.
As talks proceed, Corinne Linnecar, advocacy officer at Cell Information Workforce, an organisation that helps refugees in Greece with their asylum procedures, highlighted the urgency to reform the asylum process throughout the EU and implement it persistently.
“Some European international locations (Sweden, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Eire, Portugal, Malta, Poland, Romania, Hungary) have a single procedural step to register a person’s declare, which mechanically results in the declare’s examination.
“Whereas others (Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Turkey) recognise ‘registration’ and ‘lodging’ as discrete levels,” she instructed Al Jazeera.
“There are at all times constructive and destructive points of the European response to asylum,” mentioned ECRE’s Woollard. “However there must be extra effort in refining the widespread asylum system which might be pragmatic for refugees and the individuals dealing with their papers.”