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Thousands of Afghans desperately wants to leave the country after the arrival of the Taliban to power. Although the daily continued evacuation aircraft to Kabul airport, UNHCR warns that “vast majority” of Afghans “have no clear way out”. According to the agency, since January this year alone, more than 550,000 people have been internally displaced. Will the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan create a new chaos for the EU and initiate a new migration crisis this autumn?
The reactions of the European Union Member States’ leaders are different as they are their own national policies on the immigrant’s acceptance. Austria has said it will not accept refugees from Afghanistan. Its Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in a recent interview that he was “clearly against the fact that Austria accepts more people voluntarily”. Instead of accepting refugees, he said that “we must do everything in our power” to improve the situation in Afghanistan. He also rejected the further “burden” and explained that Austria is already the home of the second largest Afghan community in the EU, with 44,000 Afghans.
French President Emanuel Macron has said he will help relocate some Afghans – including human rights lawyers, journalists and activists, but has not yet given a figure. Hungary has promised to help “several dozen” families who have helped its armed forces, but refuses to accept large numbers of refugees. “Let’s send help there, and not bring problems here”, President Viktor Orban told Radio Kossuth, reports the Independent.
The region of the Western Balkans is a natural transit route towards the Western Europe. The first non-EU Member State that announced that would receive refugees from Afghanistan fleeing the Taliban was Albania. Prime Minister Edi Rama announced on Sunday (August 15th) that Albania has accepted a US request to temporarily accept Afghan refugees seeking visas to enter the United States. Rama said that the administration of US President Joseph Biden recently asked Albania, a NATO member, to assess whether it could serve as a transit country for a number of refugees from Afghanistan, whose final destination is the United States. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has said that 457 Afghans have arrived in Albania so far, after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.
Should all the images we see every day from Afghanistan scare Europeans? Given the not-so-distant past and the relatively unsuccessful management of the migrant crisis initiated after the armed conflict in Syria, during which the European Union received hundreds of thousands of refugees, any subsequent similar crisis on the Old Continent could shake the Union’s internal political cohesion. According to Eurostat, about 630,000 Afghans have applied for asylum in EU countries in the past 10 years, mostly in Germany, Hungary, Greece, and Sweden. The latest report from the European Union shows that around 7,000 Afghans received permanent or temporary legal status in the EU in the first quarter of 2021.
It seems that at the moment Europe is quite unprepared for resolving the fate of thousands of refugees who are reaching the territory of the EU, and that will be in the coming months an intensifying problem to the public Member States of the European Union. What the United States has neglected to create in Afghanistan will now spill over into Europe and create new potential chaos and deeper divisions in European society in terms of the admission of immigrants and their assimilation into society. Taking into account the already existing differences expressed not only by the leaders, but also by the public of the Member States, there is no doubt that this issue will be a central point of discussion in national elections and in the internal political life within European countries.
Written by: Nenad Stekić
Submitted on: September 6, 2021