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Developing: EU Promise to Take in 40,000 Afghan Refugees

By Maria Mitri

The Taliban seizure of control of Afghanistan on August 15th, 2021 rocked the world and left United States allies and citizens abroad scrambling for aid, plans of escape, and any inkling of what was to come. This coming of power followed years of Afghani and United States military defense of the capital of Kabul. The United States was able to evacuate around 120,000 people, bringing decades of conflict to an end with this rapid withdrawal, but many American citizens and allies were left behind.


Among those able to escape were United States citizens, Afghans who worked for American forces as interpreters or translators, and diplomats of American allies, per Washington Post. However, many Afghan civilians who were deemed at risk were not able to be rescued, including members of the Afghani military who supported United States forces in the country, applicants for Visas, and students of the American University of Afghanistan.


Months later, neighboring countries are still left picking up the pieces of the Taliban's takeover and America’s consequential hasty withdrawal from the country. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees documented, since the beginning of 2021, the arrival of almost 100,000 Afghan refugees into neighboring countries including Iran, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan.


There are already 2.2 million refugees from Afghanistan documented and registered in Iran and Pakistan, both countries becoming more reluctant to accept more. Before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the number of refugees from Afghanistan fleeing to countries close to the EU was growing past 85,000, with even more predicted to flee following the Taliban takeover and the current drought, per Al Jazeera.


Following the withdrawal of the United States military, members of the European Union accepted 28,000 evacuees. Bearing in mind the warning of the Chief of the UNHCR that many Afghan refugees are in desperate need of resettlement, the European Union has agreed to take in more refugees, not just from Afghanistan.


Many members of the European Union have agreed to accept Afghani refugees, with Germany leading the charge and taking 25,000 of the declared number of refugees to be accepted. Historically, Germany has been a consistent safe haven for refugees, most recently helping those from Syria during the Syrian Refugee Crisis, recording almost 900,000 refugees in 2015 seeking asylum from Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as Syria.


The Netherlands, France, and Spain have agreed to admit 3,100 and 2,500 Afghan refugees respectively, with Sweden offering refuge to 2,000 whose safety is currently in jeopardy.


In total, fifteen states have agreed to take in 60,000 vulnerable refugees, including 40,000 refugees from Afghanistan. This number was decided upon after a meeting of the interior ministers of the European Union, following a plea from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees asking the European Union to accept 42,500 refugees from Afghanistan over five years; this plea, however, was met with opposition and the European Union failed to come to a consensus at that time.


The European Union’s recent agreement to accept refugees is an impressive act of aid, as more than half of the Afghanistan population is currently facing extreme levels of hunger with millions of civilians at risk of famine, according to TRT World.


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