Afghanistan: five questions on the fate of refugees after Taliban takeover

Scenes of panic on the tarmac at Kabul airport. After the capture of the Afghan capital by the Taliban on Sunday August 15, thousands of Afghans tried to take a flight to flee the country. At the same time, several states are currently in the process of evacuating their nationals and some Afghans who worked for their services.

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But the situation of future refugees divides the international community. While some countries have already announced that they are ready to welcome Afghan exiles, border states, but also other countries such as Turkey, fear an influx of migrants. On the European Union side, thehis question is highly sensitive. Franceinfo answers five questions on the reception of refugees.

1What is the situation there?

While civilians have so far fled only sporadically and in small numbers to countries neighboring Afghanistan, the situation continues to evolve rapidly. “, felt, Tuesday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The UN agency also recalled that, since the start of the year, more than 550,000 Afghans have been internally displaced. “because of the conflict and the insecurity”.

The Americans have already sent 6,000 troops to evacuate some 30,000 people, namely their diplomats as well as Afghan civilians who cooperated with the United States. The French services for their part proceeded, Tuesday, to the evacuation of 45 French nationals and several nationals of other countries.

At the same time, thousands of Afghans, never having worked for foreigners and having no chance of obtaining a visa as such, rushed to Kabul airport on Monday in an attempt to flee the country. For the time being, it is difficult to estimate the number of potential refugees and the conditions under which they may or may not leave Afghanistan.

2Which countries have expressed their readiness to welcome Afghan refugees?

Several states have already announced their intention to welcome Afghan migrants on their soil. The Canadian government declared on Friday to accept to welcome 20,000 Afghan refugees under a new immigration program. Washington has also announced a program for the admission of refugees, particularly for Afghan interpreters who have worked with American forces or Afghan personnel employed by NGOs or media organizations based in the United States.

However, this program involves a temporary relocation of Afghans to third countries in the region, for about a year, while the administrative process is carried out. Kosovo has already indicated that it has accepted “without hesitation” this American request. Neighboring Albania has also confirmed having examined the possibility of serving as a transit country for a number of Afghan political immigrants whose final destination would be the United States “.

Germany, for its part, has assured that it has identified several thousand people who could be evacuated, mainly Afghans and their families who worked for the Afghan regular army, but also lawyers and human rights defenders. In total, including their families, more than 10,000 people are affected, the German Chancellor said on Tuesday.

Emmanuel Macron for his part declared, Monday evening, that France “does and will continue to do its duty to protect those who are most at risk”, citing in particular the “rights defenders, artists, journalists, activists” Afghans, but without putting forward a figure. The French president also did not specify the conditions of this aid.

3What is the position of the European Union?

The issue of welcoming migrants remains highly delicate in the European Union. “It is indeed the specter of 2015 that looms in the heads of European leaders”, when hundreds of thousands of refugees, mostly Syrians, had crossed European borders, explains Le Monde (paid item).

“Europe cannot, on its own, assume the consequences of the current situation”, insisted the French head of state during his speech. Emmanuel Macron said he wanted to carry a European initiative, alongside Germany, aimed at “protect significant irregular migratory flows “ who “feed trafficking of all kinds”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for her part, spoke out for a welcome “control” Afghan refugees “particularly vulnerable”.

“The Taliban hold the borders, they now have a means of pressure on the Europeans”, analysis on franceinfo geopolitologist Pascal Boniface. In 2019, Afghanistan was the second nationality of origin for asylum seekers at European level, behind Syria. Of the 612,700 first-time applications registered in the Union, 52,500 were filed by Afghans, according to the European statistical agency Eurostat (PDF file).

4What do “transit” countries like Pakistan and Turkey plan to do?

During his speech, Emmanuel Macron pleaded for “the establishment of cooperation with transit and host countries such as Pakistan, Turkey or Iran”. A point of view shared by the German Chancellor, who ruled on Tuesday that regional solutions should be sought initially to accommodate Afghan refugees.

But these countries fear a potential new influx of migrants, as Iran already hosts more than 3.5 million Afghans and Turkey has some 3.6 million Syrian refugees. “Turkey is facing a growing wave of Afghans passing through Iran”Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday. In this context, Ankara has accelerated in recent days the construction of a border wall with Iran. “With this wall, we will completely stop the passages”, launched the Turkish head of state.

5What about Afghan nationals already in exile?

Finally, concerning Afghan nationals who have already left their country, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees asked on Tuesday that their forced returns to Afghanistan be prohibited, including for asylum seekers whose request was rejected.

Several states had already announced the temporary suspension of expulsions of failed Afghan asylum seekers. France, for example, announced on August 12 that it had suspended these expulsions since the beginning of July. The same decision was notably taken by Germany and the Netherlands.

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