Ready to Assist Afghan Refugees Now?

Children with signs saying We want peace.

“We in the international community stand ready to assist them.” 

This is the end sentence in a statement issued yesterday, August 16, by 60 countries, in response to the Taliban take over of Afghanistan and the heartbreaking scenes of desperate people wanting to leave.

Fifty percent of all of the countries urging the new rulers to let “foreign nationals and Afghans who wish to leave” to be allowed to do so, are European countries.

I can’t help but think it is cynical. EU countries have generally become tougher when it comes to rejecting asylum applications, and have forcibly returned over 70’000 refused asylum seekers between 2008 and 2020 to Afghanistan.

However, there are huge differences between Member States. For example one could compare the two signatory countries Italy and Bulgaria: Italy approved 93% of all applications from Afghan citizens in the first instance by 2020. In Bulgaria, only 1% were approved. The willingness to receive people has been highly uneven, so far.

Yet, the statement is a good sign and NGOs all over Europe are prepared to welcome, host and help refugees as soon as the politicians in the European countries take their responsibility and act.

Read the joint statement on Afghanistan released as of August 16:

Given the deteriorating security situation, we support, are working to secure, and call on all parties to respect and facilitate, the safe and orderly departure of foreign nationals and Afghans who wish to leave the country. Those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan bear responsibility—and accountability—for the protection of human life and property, and for the immediate restoration of security and civil order.

Afghans and international citizens who wish to depart must be allowed to do so; roads, airports and border crossing must remain open, and calm must be maintained.

The Afghan people deserve to live in safety, security and dignity.  We in the international community stand ready to assist them.

Signed by the following countries:

Albania, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Canada, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta , Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Moldova,  Montenegro, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, North Macedonia, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Cyprus, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, The Gambia, Togo, Tonga, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States of America, Ukraine, Vanuatu, Yemen and Zambia.


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