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EU seeks united front on handling Afghan migrants

In the draft text, member states say they are "determined to act jointly to prevent the return of...
Published 31 Aug, 2021 09:00pm
—AFP Photo
—AFP Photo

BRUSSELS: EU member states strove Tuesday to find consensus on how to help Afghanistan's neighbouring countries take in refugees fleeing the Taliban and prevent an influx of migrants comparable to 2015.

"We need to avoid a humanitarian crisis, we need to avoid a migratory crisis, and we need to avoid security threats," the EU commissioner for home affairs, Ylva Johansson said ahead of a meeting of the EU's 27 interior ministers in Brussels.

"But then we need to act now and not wait until we have big flows of people at our external borders or until we have terrorist organisations being stronger," she added.

"Everybody would like to avoid a situation like in 2015, and we can avoid it, we are much better prepared, and we can reach out to do things already now," Johansson, a former Swedish minister, said.

At the meeting, the ministers are expected to approve a declaration that includes support for countries in the region to take in refugees from Afghanistan, which has been in Taliban hands since mid-August.

The return of the Taliban to power has plunged the future of many Afghans into uncertainty and sparked concern that millions may seek refuge in neighbouring countries and Europe.

In the draft text seen by AFP, member states say they are "determined to act jointly to prevent the return of large-scale illegal and uncontrolled migration movements," as in 2015 when more than a million migrants mostly fleeing the war in Syria arrived in Europe.

In 2016, Turkey inked a deal with the EU to stem the flow of migrants to Europe by hosting millions of arrivals in return for some incentives including financial assistance.

The EU may yet seek to do the same with Afghanistan's neighbours, but senior officials say the priority is stabilising to situation inside the country.

Member states are concerned about the risk of terrorism, promising to "do their utmost to ensure that the situation in Afghanistan does not lead to new security risks for EU citizens."

As interior ministers, "our main responsibility is to protect EU citizens from terrorist attacks," said Slovenian Minister Ales Hojs, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.

"You see what is happening all the time in Kabul, we cannot be sure that something like this cannot happen in the future in Europe," he said.

Afghan refugees


afghan taliban

Afghan crisis

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