European governments they don’t want Afghan refugees beyond the thousands that they themselves already evacuated from Afghanistan because they had collaborated with troops from European countries or international organizations and NGOs.
They don’t want the Afghans to repeat the journey they made now more than one million Syrians between the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 and that it was closed when the European Union agreed to pay 3,000 million euros to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, which since then has contained them and has not allowed them to continue their trip to Europe.
A group of countries, among which were the usual suspects in terms of showing toughness in migration matters such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia or Slovenia but also Austria or Denmark they pressed in Brussels to harden as much as possible the text that came out of the meeting of interior ministers.
To the point that they demanded that it will be used “illegal” and not “irregular” to talk about migratory movements. The rhetorical debate was the little that separated the positions. The supporters of using “illegal” ended up winning, although no one in Brussels knows how to explain how a person fleeing a country at war or an authoritarian regime can be “illegal”.
Taliban aboard a military vehicle at Kabul Airport. Photo Xinhua
International conventions and European directives clearly define someone like a refugee.
The rest hardly argued because all 27 agree on the basics: they don’t want more Afghans.
The meeting of the interior ministers will continue at the end of this week with another of foreign ministers from which numbers and figures will come outBut European governments are aiming for a plan with three pillars, of which they have already put the first in place by evacuating several tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan.
The second pillar will be paying the neighbors of the regime Taliban (essentially Iran and Pakistan) to take care of a possible massive arrival of refugees and prevent them from continuing to Europe. They are the two countries that host the most Afghan refugees.
The text of the meeting reads: “The Union will cooperate with those countries to prevent illegal migration from the region, strengthen their ability to manage their borders and prevent human trafficking ”.
European governments are thus committed to repeating with Iran and Pakistan the policies of outsourcing migration management that they already use with Turkey or Morocco and that expose them to the blackmail of those authoritarian regimes.
The final communiqué of the meeting assures that the European Union “will reinforce its support to third countries, in particular neighboring and transit countries, that host a large number of migrants and refugees, so that they reinforce their capacities to provide protection, dignified and safe reception conditions and sustainable ways of life ”.
The ministers did not put a figure on the table on Tuesday, but community sources estimate that it may be around some number close to 1 billion euros, which should be shared between Iran and Pakistan and should be spent on humanitarian aid for the most vulnerable people and on the construction of minimally decent refugee centers.
The third pillar will be to promote that, voluntarily and individually, European governments agree to resettle Afghan refugees that they be welcomed in Iran and Pakistan, a promise that has already been made in the past with the Syrians and whose fulfillment is anecdotal.
One of the families evacuated from Afghanistan. AP Photo
But the priority is to seal the borders: “The Union and its Member States are determined to act together to prevent the large-scale, recurrent and illegal migratory movements that it has faced in the past. Incentives for illegal migration must be avoided ”.
The ministers also promised to seek ways out of Afghanistan for the thousands of Afghans who collaborated with European governments and that they were still unable to flee, as well as collaborating with United Nations agencies to help the most vulnerable groups, especially women and girls.