Friday 9/17/21
AFGHANISTAN

EU interior ministers to discuss migration as Afghan crisis unfolds

Some EU leaders are strategizing how to avoid a repeat of 2015 and 2016, when hundreds of thousands made the perilous journey to seek protection in the bloc
03 August 2021, Turkey, Caldiran: About 400 refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, picked up by Turkish police, wait at a checkpoint near the city of Caldiran, close to Turkey's border with Iran. About 300 of them were found crammed into a truck. Photo: Bradley Secker/dpa
About 400 refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran wait at a checkpoint close to Turkey's border with Iran. Photo: Bradley Secker/dpa.

EU interior ministers' are holding talks on migration Wednesday against the backdrop of the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan, with some parts of the bloc concerned by the prospect of a mass exodus of people fleeing life under the Taliban.

The meeting was convened to address an influx of people at Lithuania's borders, allegedly assisted by non-EU neighbour Belarus.

Afghanistan is not officially on the agenda on Wednesday. But following the Taliban's seizure of power, some EU leaders are already strategizing how to avoid a repeat of 2015 and 2016, when hundreds of thousands - many from Syria - made the perilous journey to seek protection in the bloc.

While some EU politicians, the UN refugee agency and various rights groups have stressed the need to protect the vulnerable, countries like France, Germany, Greece and Italy have warned the European Union must get ahead of a fresh wave.

The bloc should provide support to Afghanistan's neighbours to keep refugees in the region, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said this week.

A European Commission spokesperson said Tuesday the bloc would work in the coming days on a joint strategy involving both legal pathways to seek EU protection and managing "risks of irregular migration."

Skepticism

Some experts are skeptical the Afghan crisis will unleash a replay of the scenes witnessed in Europe five years ago, however.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan for five years, imposing harsh corporal punishments and major restrictions on women, before being ousted by the United States and western allies in 2001.

Many fear a return to this system or reprisals from the group for collaborating with recently departed occupying forces.

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