Will Afghanistan create another migration crisis for Europe? | Voice of America


LONDON – Six years ago, more than 1.2 million migrants from many parts of the world fled to Europe, traveling hundreds or thousands of kilometers to seek new life in a crisis that has left deep scars policies.

Is the continent on the verge of another refugee crisis, as millions of Afghans try to escape the Taliban?

Several European leaders have expressed these fears in recent days. In a televised address on August 16, French President Emmanuel Macron said that “dealing with those fleeing the Taliban would require an organized and fair international effort.”

“Europe alone cannot assume the consequences of the current situation”, he added.

Migrants, mostly from Afghanistan, walk through a deportation center in Van, Turkey, on the border with Iran on August 23, 2021.

In Germany, the secretary general of the ruling Christian Democrats told n-tv: “For us, it is clear that 2015 must not be repeated. … We will not be able to solve the Afghan question by migrating to Germany.

In 2015, the majority of those who entered Europe were fleeing the war in Syria. After crossing Turkey, they were able to enter Greece, a member of the European Union, either by crossing by boat to the Greek islands, or by attempting to cross the land border on the Evros River which separates the two countries. The journey then took them through the Balkans and beyond to Western Europe.

Afghan migrants who attempt a similar journey face many other obstacles. Turkey is building a fence along its border with Iran, the main route for Afghan migrants to Europe.

Likewise, Greece has also completed the construction of a border fence along its land border with Turkey. Many migrants trying to reach the Greek islands from Turkey by boat found themselves stranded in overcrowded refugee camps.

FILE - On this Friday, May 21, 2021, a police officer is patrolling along a steel wall at the Evros river, near the village of Poros, in…
FILE – A policeman patrols along a steel wall at the Evros River, near the village of Poros, on the Greek-Turkish border, Greece, May 21, 2021.

The 2016 migration agreement between the European Union and Turkey has also made travel much more difficult for migrants.

Visiting the border fence on Saturday, Greek Minister of Citizen Protection Michalis Chrisochoidis defended the government’s measures.

“The Afghan crisis creates new facts in the geopolitical sphere, and at the same time, creates possibilities for migratory flows. We know that we, as a European country, participate in the institutions of the European Union, and within this framework a series of decisions are taken. But we cannot passively wait for the possible impact, ”Chrisochoidis told reporters.

Helena Hahn, migration analyst at the Brussels-based Center for European Policy, said many Afghans will find it difficult to leave the country in the first place.

“The deterrence measures, as well as the containment measures by neighboring countries and potentially also the Taliban themselves as they continue to reveal their true agenda, will actually prevent people from leaving the country. example, has repeatedly closed border crossings and suggested that refugee camps be set up in the country but do not allow people to cross borders. Turkey has built a wall on its border with Iran and has also increased the capacity of its so-called repatriation centers, ”Hahn told VOA.

Despite the measures, hundreds of Afghans have managed to reach Turkey in recent weeks. Murtaza Faqiri, a 19-year-old migrant from Afghanistan held in a migrant detention center in the eastern town of Van, called on Europe for help.

“I want to say this to Europe and other countries, to help us. We are Afghans. We are not fighting. We want to have a good life,” Faqiri told The Associated Press.

Turkey has said it has halted repatriation flights to Afghanistan.

“We have never sent an immigrant to persecution or death, nor will we send them in this process,” Ramazan Secilmis, deputy director of the Turkish General Directorate of Migration Management, told reporters on Sunday. . “We refer people in need of protection to their registered provinces (in Turkey) by receiving their requests for protection. Then, as part of the resettlement program, we ensure that they are resettled in countries such as the European Union, America and Canada. ”

An Afghan migrant rests while waiting to be transported by smugglers after crossing the Iranian-Turkish border on August 15, 2021 in…
FILE – An Afghan migrant rests while waiting to be transported by smugglers after crossing the Iranian-Turkish border on August 15, 2021 in Tatvan, on the western shore of Lake Van, in eastern Turkey.

However, it is not known how many refugees these countries will accept. Visiting a reception center for Afghan refugees near Madrid on Sunday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged member states to do more.

“I call on all states that have participated in the missions in Afghanistan, Europeans and others, to provide sufficient resettlement quotas and secure pathways so that we can collectively welcome those in need of protection,” von der Leyen told the journalists.

Until now, most of the evacuees have worked alongside Western forces in Afghanistan. Europe can do more, said analyst Hahn.

“EU member states can voluntarily increase their resettlement pledges. Traditionally, over the past two years, the Syrians have been a top priority. But we can see that these geographic priorities are changing.

Meanwhile, Poland has announced that it will also build a fence along its border with Belarus, which has seen an influx of refugees, including Afghans, in recent weeks.

Poland claims they are “economic migrants” and accuses Belarus of waging a “hybrid war” by directing them towards the border. Human rights groups have accused Poland of violating the Geneva Convention by ignoring migrants’ asylum claims.

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