Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Stopping Afghan Refugees

 Afghanistan today is a devastated country. Given the role European NATO  countries have played in these military interventions, one would think that the fate of the Afghan citizens would be one of the main preoccupations and concerns of European politicians. Video of desperate Afghans clinging on to aeroplanes taking off from Kabul and falling to their deaths shocked many.

European politicians have done relatively little to help Afghans in view of their moral responsibility for their plight.

France and the United Kingdom have gone only as far as proposing the creation of a United Nations-run safe zone in Kabul for those wanting to flee Taliban rule, while Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, has said “evacuations, immediate humanitarian aid, longer-term development aid” were discussed at a G7 meeting.

 Afghanistan is facing an imminent humanitarian catastrophe and an exodus of people seeking asylum, so this is by far not enough. 

Worse still, some European politicians have started using the Afghan crisis as an opportunity to score political points.

Nigel Farage was quick to raise the fear of a flood of Muslims. “You can now see a wave of people leaving Afghanistan, and we already have numbers we quite simply can’t cope with,” he said. “How do we know that the Taliban and other extremist groups aren’t using this route to get their operatives into our country?”

Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League and Italy’s former interior minister, echoed Farage in his August 18 tweet, saying: “Humanitarian corridors for women and children in danger, certainly yes. Doors open for thousands of men, including potential terrorists, absolutely not.” 

So much for preserving family values by splitting families up. 

Only those Afghans who directly assisted the German military should receive asylum, the right-wing Alternative for Germany candidate,  Tino Chrupalla, said, and that all other Afghans should be turned away at the German border.

French President Emmanuel Macron said France should “anticipate and protect itself from a wave of migrants” from Afghanistan. 

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has gone as far as suggesting that Europe should keep Europe-bound Afghan refugees in third countries.

The European Union ministers of home affairs made it clear that their main priority is preventing “illegal immigration”. They declared that the EU “remain determined to effectively protect the EU external borders and prevent unauthorised entries” adding that the bloc should “strengthen the support to the countries in Afghanistan’s immediate neighbourhood to ensure that those in need receive adequate protection primarily in the region”.

Such proposals to externalise migration management and humanitarian protection through the creation of “buffer zones” or offshore reception centres are not new.

The EU signed deals with Turkey, Libya and others to stop refugees from entering the bloc, and take back “all migrants not in need of international protection.” Turkey’s Foreign Minister has already made it clear that his country is not willing to agree to a similar, disastrous deal in the aftermath of the US’s exit from Afghanistan. 

Exporting the migration crisis to third countries and adopting anti-migrant rhetoric may provide quick fixes for European leaders. But such strategies, as seen many times in the recent past, will not pay off in the long run. “Fortress Europe” does not keep the EU safe and prosperous, but instead fuels ethnonationalism and hate within the bloc’s borders.

Europe is politicising Afghan refugees instead of helping them | Opinions | Al Jazeera

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