Monday, November 29

The EU must stop the preventive panic over the arrival of Afghans in Europe | View

As scenes of chaos and despair unfold in Kabul, the response from EU leaders has ranged from passionate calls on the Taliban to allow refugees to leave to expressions of concern for women’s rights.

Beyond wringing your hands, however, one theme stands out.

French President Emmanuel Macron said it for the first time, announcing a joint initiative with Germany to “protect” us from the possible arrival of Afghan refugees.

As people fell from the sky over Kabul, after trying to hold onto a US Army plane., Austria’s interior and foreign ministers also suggested that if deportations to Afghanistan of rejected asylum seekers were no longer possible, the EU could send them to countries in the region.

EU foreign ministers, meeting this week, vowed to anticipate any “large-scale migratory movements” to Europe.

Speaking harshly about migration rarely marries reality. If it did, the panic over possible new “waves” and “influxes” of Afghans to the EU would be short-lived.

To get to Europe, refugees from Afghanistan have to enter and cross countries like Iran and Turkey, which already host millions of refugees and are busy reinforcing their borders; manage to avoid the brutal coast and border guards on both sides of the Turkish-Greek border; and then they face a barrage of violent rejections as they try to cross the Western Balkans.

Many Europeans sympathize with the Afghan people fleeing the Taliban today, but very few know that brutal asylum and border policies have fortified Europe against the possibility of those same women, children and men reaching safety here, and only a few thousand managed to enter the EU. , every year.

EU Interior Ministers also met this week. They were originally called to discuss the arrival of Iraqi and African asylum seekers who were being encouraged to enter Lithuania, Latvia and Poland by the Belarusian regime.

Unsurprisingly, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has taken note of how easy it is to stoke political tensions in Europe by allowing migrants and refugees to cross borders into the EU – a tool that Turkish strongman Erdogan and more recently , the Moroccan government, have used it to great effect to blackmail the European Union.

And while EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson stressed that returns to Afghanistan were off the table, Brussels’ mantra remains that attempts to seal EU borders, with or without agreements with autocrats to do so, they can reconcile with respect. for EU securities.

But those values ​​include respect for international asylum law, which is not compatible with the publicly announced denials of entry by the Latvian authorities for exhausted families; the introduction of indefinite detention for asylum seekers in Lithuania; and a history of violent refusals of refugees on the Polish-Belarusian border

The truth is that EU leaders cannot continue to pander to both sides of the ideological divide on migration, claiming that they are doing everything they can to protect endangered civilians in Afghanistan and, at the same time, pointing out that Europe’s borders are closed to refugees and migrants. .

Instead, the EU should demonstrate that it is possible to manage migration humanely and sustainably.

In the short term, the EU should focus on ensuring that all countries, including its own member states, keep their borders open to people fleeing violence and persecution. The EU should also heed recent calls by the UN agency to halt returns to Afghanistan by officially suspending the readmission agreement it had signed with the Afghan government earlier this year, and to end any fantasy of deporting Afghans. to Iran or Pakistan. And it should substantially increase its resettlement quotas and humanitarian evacuation mechanisms to allow more Afghan refugees to reach safety without suffering extortion, exploitation and violence along the way.

In the longer term, the European Commission should review the Pact on Migration and Asylum that it presented almost a year ago. Will storing more people at the EU’s external borders and restricting asylum rights really help make asylum systems more effective and efficient, or will it sentence people to months or years of misery in a failed attempt to deter more to come? And will pandering to the far right, whether within countries ruled by centrist forces or ruling parties in others, cover up the deep divisions across Europe over the rule of law or further reinforce them?

As the predictable tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan once again demonstrates, most people who escape wars generally end up internally displaced or in neighboring countries. Rather than go into a preventive panic, the EU should seize this opportunity to ensure that member states that still adhere to international standards actually implement existing asylum laws and work together to host refugees fairly.

The current situation should not provide ammunition to extremists seeking to undermine the EU; rather, it should show how isolated they are.

_Giulia _Laganà is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Open Society European Policy Institute.

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