Germany and the Netherlands have said they have ended forced repatriations of Afghan migrants due to deteriorating security in Afghanistan, as the Taliban continue their rapid advance in the north of the country.
“Due to the current development of the security situation, the Minister of the Interior has decided to suspend deportations to Afghanistan for the time being,” tweeted German Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter. .
Separately in The Hague, Dutch Secretary of State for Justice and Security Ankie Broekers-Knol announced a “moratorium on [deportation] decisions and departures ”. The judgment “will apply for six months and will apply to foreign nationals of Afghan nationality,” she wrote in a letter to the Dutch parliament.
Wednesday’s decision by the Germans and the Dutch marked a sharp turnaround from their previous position. Officials had said until Tuesday that the two governments joined their Austrian, Belgian, Danish and Greek counterparts in writing to the EU executive saying they should be allowed to continue deporting migrants Afghans if their asylum claims were unsuccessful.
Afghanistan urged the EU in July to stop forced evictions for three months as security forces fight the Taliban offensive before the US military’s full withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 31.
In recent days, die-hard Islamists have made tremendous strides in the north, seizing territories including the provincial capital Kunduz, where German troops had been deployed for a decade until the end of June.
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Monday expressed disappointment at the developments. “The reports from Kunduz and all of Afghanistan are bitter and do a lot of harm,” she tweeted.
Northern Afghanistan has long been seen as an anti-Taliban stronghold, with some of the fiercest resistance to the militant regime in the 1990s.