Fortress Europe: EU ‘Not Ready’ For New Migrant Crisis as Taliban Advances in War-Torn Afghanistan

Written by | Sunday, August 15th, 2021

The number of migrants irregularly entering the European Union by crossing the Western Balkans has almost doubled this year, EU border agency Frontex said, with the majority reportedly coming from Syria and Afghanistan. Frontex said 22,600 migrants were detected irregularly entering the EU via the Western Balkan route for the first six month of 2021, an increase of 90% compared with the same period in 2020. This news comes after Greek migration minister Notis Mitarachi warned on Wednesday (11 August) that the EU is not in a position to deal with a repeat of the migration crisis in 2015 and urged the bloc to try to keep people from fleeing the growing conflict in Afghanistan. Mitarachi, who last week co-signed a letter with ministers from five other EU countries saying deportations of failed asylum-seekers should continue despite the fighting, said ending such returns “would send the wrong message”.
But forward one day and Germany and France performed a screeching U-turn and stopped deportations of Afghan migrants as the Taliban continue their advance in the country. A French interior ministry spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday (12 August) that Paris halted deportations in early July, owing to the deteriorating security situation. France’s announcement came after Germany and the Netherlands pulled an about-face on the controversial deportations. EU member states Finland and Sweden, as well as EEA member Norway, have also paused deportations. But Mitarachi warned that “it would lead more people trying to leave and come to the European Union.” The Greek migration minister also suggested that the EU should offer more support to help Turkey mitigate the pressures of more migrant arrivals from Afghanistan, adding that “the EU is not ready and does not have the capacity to handle another major migration crisis.”
Six year ago, Greece was at the frontline of Europe’s migration crisis, as nearly a million people, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq landed on its outlying island after the dangerous crossing from Turkey’s shores on inflatable boats. Today, it is also Latvia that is experiencing a somewhat similar ‘border crisis’. Latvian border guards turned back dozens of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, Africa and Asia into Belarus, overnight under a new state of emergency designed to stem a flow of arrivals Brussels says is orchestrated by Minsk. Earlier on Tuesday (10 August), Latvia on Tuesday declared a local state of emergency along its border with Belarus, as Lithuanian lawmakers approved the construction of a fence to stem an influx of illegal migrants. Some of the migrants told Latvian border guards they had been flown from Iraq to Istanbul in Turkey and then on to the Belarusian capital Minsk. Baghdad last week announced a suspension of flights to Belarus to stem the flow and “protect Iraqi citizens who have been victims of smuggling networks”.

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