BRUSSELS, Aug.30 (Reuters) – European Union states are determined to prevent uncontrolled migration from Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country, a draft statement prepared for a meeting on Tuesday said.
EU governments are keen to avoid a repeat of the chaotic influx of refugees and migrants in 2015 that took the bloc by surprise and sowed divisions among them, fueling support for far-right parties then that the camps in Greece, Italy, and elsewhere swelled.
“Based on the lessons learned, the EU and its Member States are determined to act jointly to prevent the recurrence of large-scale uncontrolled illegal migratory movements encountered in the past, by preparing a coordinated and orderly response,” the ministers said. of the Interior during the meeting. , according to the draft statement seen by Reuters.
The position emerged as the UN refugee agency UNHCR warned that up to half a million Afghans could flee their homelands by the end of the year.
Thousands of Afghans were evacuated in a massive airlift set up by Western forces after the Taliban captured the capital Kabul on August 15. But as the operation draws to a close, many have been left to an uncertain fate under the rule of the outright Islamist group.
UNHCR appealed for support on Monday, saying “a bigger crisis is just beginning” for Afghanistan’s 39 million people.
Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, reiterated a call for borders to remain open and for more countries to share responsibility with Iran and Pakistan, which already host 2.2 million Afghans .
“The airlifts from Kabul will end in a few days, and the tragedy that has unfolded will not be so visible. But it will always be a daily reality for millions of Afghans. We must not turn away, ”Grandi said in a statement.
At Tuesday’s emergency meeting in Brussels, EU ministers will also reiterate the bloc’s pledge to give more money to Afghanistan as well as neighboring countries, albeit channeling aid has become more complicated since the Taliban took control, EU officials said.
“The EU should also step up support to countries in Afghanistan’s immediate neighborhood to ensure that those in need receive adequate protection mainly in the region,” the ministers will say, according to the draft declaration.
Although Turkey helped contain the 2015 crisis with EU funding by welcoming millions of fleeing Syrians, Ankara is less willing to take in large numbers of Afghans as the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic slump bring it to the fore. straining social and security services.
Ministers will also pledge to end new security threats from Afghanistan to EU citizens, according to the draft. It did not contain specific details on the new measures.
The International Rescue Committee, meanwhile, said the EU should create a new program to resettle at least 30,000 Afghans from the region over the next 12 months. The association estimated that there were already 2.6 million Afghan refugees, mostly hosted by Iran and Pakistan.
“The EU must respect the right to seek asylum for people fleeing Afghanistan,” the IRC said in a statement. Caritas Europa also called on the EU not to abandon the Afghans.
Separately, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said he wants the bloc to create a rapid response military force to intervene in future crises and help stabilize fragile democracies abroad. .
Reporting by Robin Emmott, editing by Sabine Siebold and Angus MacSwan
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