Afghanistan Debacle: EU States Evacuate Kabul as Afghans’ Plight Reignites Migration Fears

Written by | Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

European Union countries have resumed evacuations from Kabul airport, the last piece of allied-controlled territory in Afghanistan, as Taliban forces urged people to return to normal life. They scrambled to evacuate their citizens and Afghan staff from Kabul on Sunday and Monday (15-16 August) as US troops kept the Afghan capital’s airport open — the only way out of the country that has been taken over by Taliban extremists in lightning speed. But the evacuation of diplomats, other foreigners and Afghans who worked with them was being organized in a state of emergency, amid scenes of panic following Kabul’s fall to the Taliban. Scores of fearful Afghan families rushed to the airport on Sunday evening in the hope of catching a flight out as the Taliban entered the city, while the country’s president Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
But Afghans who formerly worked with EU missions in Kabul have been reported to be trapped indoors and cannot get to the airport to be evacuated. On Monday the Taliban’s military commanders issued a public call for fighters to immediately stop searching homes in the Afghan capital and taking down the details of ex-diplomatic staff. But a father-of-two hiding in Kabul said a lack of co-ordination within the ranks meant the informal raids were still going on. “They’re still doing it,” he said. “I’m watching them right now from my flat. “Another major problem is that there are groups of criminals looting shops. The Taliban have emphasized they will protect people’s security and not disturb people who were working with foreigners. But there’s still a lot of fear and panic. Everybody is trying to stay inside.”
Meanwhile, several EU member states are worried that the Taliban takeover would trigger a replay of the 2015-16 migration crisis. With fears mounting in Europe over a new influx of refugees from Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover there, EU foreign affairs ministers will hold an emergency virtual meeting on Tuesday (17 August) to discuss the security situation and migration. Europe must come up with a “robust” response to tackle increased migration flows from Afghanistan, French President Emmanuel Macron said in a pre-recorded televised address on Monday, warning that “the destabilisation of Afghanistan also risks leading to irregular migratory flows towards Europe”. The French leader also cautioned that “Europe alone cannot bear the consequences of the current situation.” But his remarks drew criticism from leading human rights activists, including Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard, who called them “shameful” against the backdrop of the unfolding “human rights and humanitarian crisis” in Afghanistan.

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