Europe handed 10-point plan to help Afghan refugees as security crisis mounts

NGOs urge countries to admit vulnerable Afghans and reopen failed asylum claims

Europe must prepare for a worsening crisis in Afghanistan by admitting vulnerable refugees and ending deportations to the country, charities said.

A 10-point list of demands issued by NGOs called on European nations to reconsider failed asylum claims because of the deteriorating security position.

It said Nato member states should immediately give residency to Afghan civilians who helped foreign troops during the 20-year war.

Fears are growing for the safety of Afghan civilians amid a rapid Taliban advance as the US-led coalition withdraws its last troops from the country.

The UN’s refugee agency estimates that 270,000 Afghans have been displaced within the country’s borders since January.

The Red Cross said on Tuesday that civilians were paying a steep price for the conflict. Many people had been wounded in the fighting, placing pressure on hospitals already battling Covid-19, it said.

“Access to health care is among the most pressing humanitarian needs everywhere in the country,” said Eloi Fillion, the head of a Red Cross delegation in Afghanistan.

Turkey said this week it had detained about 1,500 illegal migrants, most of them Afghan, near its border with Iran.

Many displaced Afghans live in Iran and Pakistan, and the coalition of NGOs including Save the Children and Germany’s Pro Asyl said the number of resettlement places available for them in Europe should be increased.

They said European countries should review failed asylum applications for Afghans in light of the increased risk of violence and persecution.

Courts and immigration agencies were urged to update their information for Afghanistan to take the Taliban’s advance into account.

TOPSHOT - Afghan refugees collected by Turkish border army sit in the truck after being deported by Greek army officers on December 9, 2018, near Greece border in Edirne. (Photo by BULENT KILIC / AFP)

Concern is growing over the fate of local staff such as interpreters who fear their work for Nato troops could make them vulnerable to the Taliban.

Former German soldiers are raising funds for Afghan staff and a group of MPs wrote to Chancellor Angela Merkel telling her to ensure their safety.

Germany said it had admitted hundreds of local staff, while Washington said this week that about 2,500 Afghans would be taken to a US army base.

Countries are under pressure to halt the deportation of Afghans already within their borders.

The government in Kabul recently told European countries to stop deportations for three months because of the growing security crisis.

Sweden last week followed Finland in saying that deportations would be stopped. But other countries have yet to do the same.

The charities said European countries should “immediately cease deportations to Afghanistan due to the security situation”.

They said Europe should stop trying to identify so-called safe areas of the country to which people could be deported.

EU members can deny asylum applications if they believe that people can safely move to another part of their home country.

They must be able to travel there safely, with a reasonable expectation of being able to settle there without persecution.

But the NGOs told European countries they should not use this provision because “there is no safe area or city” in Afghanistan.

Updated: July 21st 2021, 12:10 PM