Today is the deadline set by Biden for the departure of the American military from Afghanistan. What will happen now? In any case, leaders of European governments are already trying to take action, fearing an influx of refugees as happened in 2015.
The new rulers of Afghanistan celebrated today. The country is “free” of foreign soldiers for the first time in twenty years. “Congratulations to you and our nation on freedom,” a Taliban official told a group of military personnel who now control Kabul airport for the current government. “I hope Afghanistan will never be occupied again and become a free and prosperous homeland for Afghans.”
But many Afghans do not believe this: more than one hundred thousand residents have already been evacuated by Western powers. Hundreds of thousands of people will also want to leave, because they worked in Western countries or because they belong to a group that could become victims of Taliban persecution. According to Refugees International, 550,000 Afghans have fled this year, 390,000 of them within their national borders. Will these people escape, and where will they go?
The Taliban also took control of Kabul airport today after the last Americans left:
Taliban government soldiers boarding Kabul airport
The 27 European migration ministers already met in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss the possible situation. “The European season hasn’t started yet, but we have to think about it,” Hexter says. “That’s why these 27 immigration ministers came together.”
European countries are reacting differently at the moment. The United Kingdom (which is no longer in the European Union) has announced that it plans to receive 5,000 evacuees in the near future, with a maximum of 20,000 in the next two years. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has warned EU countries against declaring such a “target”, as it could have a pulling effect.
“This is the cause of the nerves,” Hexter says. Once again hundreds of thousands of Afghans will come to Europe. But this is not certain yet. Afghanistan is also much further away than Syria.
And Secretary of State Ankie Brookers-Knoll says against it news hour The statement is “so concrete that we are all facing this massive, tragic situation in Afghanistan.” But nothing was released about concrete details of the potential reception, such as numbers, distribution and infrastructure.
According to Hexter, there is a good chance that the real decision on the immigration agreement is still pending: elections will soon take place in both Germany and France.
Europe still looms large on the map for many refugees.
According to Jonathan Holslag, lecturer in international politics at Vrije University in Brussels, it is difficult to predict whether there will be another “mass exodus” of refugees. “In the coming period, the number of refugees will remain under control. It will reach several hundreds of thousands, and will be limited to neighboring countries such as Pakistan, Iran and Tajikistan. They will slowly find their way to the Mediterranean or Balkan countries.”
But Holslag believes Europe must look beyond the short term. “Immigration pressures will continue in Afghanistan, and in the surrounding countries they don’t want to hear about these refugees. Uzbekistan said it wants to take in between one thousand and five hundred. They are starting to send them back to the border.”
Also, China because of political circumstances and the United States because of the distance is not an option. “So Europe, although the geographical distance is enormous, still looms large on that map for many refugees as the final destination.”