Europe dreads Afghan refugee influx with Taliban seizure of Kabul last week as it reminisced the 2015 migration crisis after the Syrian war. European countries adopt a hard-line migration stance in the wake of erupting chaos in Afghanistan.
The sudden return of the Taliban in Afghanistan triggering the large-scale refugee influx and migrants from the country is the last thing Europe wants to think about. The Syrian war and the resultant migration crisis in 2015 have remained etched in their minds.
As the traffic on the key route of migration from Central Asia to Europe has remained relatively calm in the previous years, many European countries fear that the Taliban takeover might alter that.
“Avoiding a refugee crisis depends on the Taliban allowing development and humanitarian work in Afghanistan, and on donor nations continuing to fund those efforts.” @NRC_Egeland tells @AP https://t.co/QfvGEmBRgX
— Norwegian Refugee Council (@NRC_Norway) August 21, 2021
Europe’s hardline stance towards Afghan refugee influx
Except for those who helped Western forces in the country’s two-decade war, the message to Afghans considering fleeing to Europe is clear, “If you must leave, go to neighboring countries, but don’t come here”.
Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer has reiterated the stance of many European leaders, “It must be our goal to keep the majority of the people in the region”
Also, this week, the European Union officials told a meeting of interior ministers that one of the lessons they learned from the 2015 migration crisis was not to leave Afghans to their own devices. Instead, we need to offer urgent and uninterrupted humanitarian help so that they do not start moving. This statement was obtained from a confidential German diplomatic memo by The Associated Press.
European Union officials told a meeting of interior ministers this week that the most important lesson from 2015 was not to leave Afghans to their own devices#AfghanRefugees #AfghanistanCrisis https://t.co/Lsdlckkh7b
— India TV (@indiatvnews) August 21, 2021
Austria, adopting a hardliner migration narrative urged for the establishment of “deportation centers” in the neighboring countries of Afghanistan. In this way, the European Union countries can extradite Afghans who have been denied asylum if they become displaced.
Even Germany, which since 2015 has admitted more Syrians than any other Western nation, is sending a different signal today.
Several German politicians, including Armin Laschet, the center-right Union bloc’s candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor, warned last week that there must be “no-repeat” of the migration crisis of 2015
On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed that “Europe alone cannot shoulder the consequences” of the situation in Afghanistan and “must anticipate and protect ourselves against significant irregular migratory flows.”
Asylum in Europe
Even in Turkey, migrants from Syria and Afghanistan, who were once treated like Muslim brethren, are facing suspicion as the country struggles with economic difficulties such as rising inflation and unemployment.
In the past 10 years, around 630,000 Afghans have applied for asylum in EU. According to the EU statistics agency Germany, Hungary, Greece, and Sweden host highest number of migrants. Last year, around 44,000 Afghans applied for asylum in the EU.
Read more: Iran, Turkey anticipate refugee crisis
Afghan neighbors grapple with refugee crisis
The disturbing scenes of people clinging to aircraft taking off from Kabul’s airport have only amplified Europe’s fear over an anticipated refugee crisis. The U.S. and its NATO allies are evacuating thousands of Afghans who fear they’ll be punished by the Taliban for having worked with Western forces. While other Afghan nationals remain barred from this preferential treatment.
UNCHR estimates that 90% of the 2.6 million Afghan refugees outside of the country live in neighboring Iran and Pakistan. Both countries also host large numbers of Afghans who left in search of better economic opportunities.