After decades of war and Western occupation, Afghanistan today is a devastated country. Given the active role played by European countries in these military interventions, one would think that the fate of Afghan citizens will become one of the main concerns of European society and its politicians. The desperate Afghans clung to the footage of two planes taking off from Kabul and shocked the Europeans.
But given the moral responsibility of Afghans for their plight, European politicians have hardly helped them. France and the United Kingdom are only proposing to establish a UN-administered safe zone in Kabul for those who want to escape from Taliban rule, while Ursula von der Lein, President of the European Commission, stated that “withdrawal, emergency humanitarian assistance was discussed at the G7 meeting. , Long-term development assistance”.
But for a country like Afghanistan facing imminent humanitarian disasters and asylum-seekers fleeing, this is not enough. To make matters worse, some European politicians have begun to use the Afghanistan crisis as an opportunity for political gain.
Britain’s far-right leader Nigel Farage waged three wars against the Afghans before joining the fourth war in 2001, and the metaphor of the Islamic “wave” soon reappeared. “You can now see a wave of people leaving Afghanistan, and we already have a number we can’t handle at all,” he said. “How do we know that the Taliban and other extremist organizations did not use this route to get their agents into our country?”
The leader of the far-right coalition and former Italian Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini responded to Fallaci in a tweet on August 18, saying: “Provide humanitarian corridors for women and children at risk, Of course it is. It will never open the door to thousands of people, including potential terrorists.”
But this is not just the far right politicizing simple humanitarian disaster response. European centre-rights made some equally problematic statements. They were influenced by the anti-Islam and nationalist right and adopted more openly hostile and anti-immigration statements.
In a statement on August 17, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that France should “anticipate and protect itself from the wave of immigration from Afghanistan”. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz even suggested that Europe should leave Afghan refugees traveling to Europe in a third country. “The Afghan people should get help in neighboring countries,” he said on August 22.
The EU Interior Minister expressed similar concerns at a special meeting on the situation in Afghanistan on August 31. They made it clear that their first task is to prevent “illegal immigration.” In a statement issued after the meeting, they announced that the EU and its member states “remain determined to effectively protect the EU’s external borders and prevent unauthorized entry”, and added that the EU should “strengthen its support to Afghanistan’s neighboring countries to ensure Those in need are mainly fully protected in the area.”
The EU’s position on the situation in Afghanistan and the plight of the Afghan people seem to be consistent with the position of the extreme right. In fact, Georgia Meloni of Italy’s Neofascist Brotherhood recently stated that it is a “cynical mockery” to convince millions of Afghans that they can all emigrate to the West, and that Europe should focus on helping Afghanistan’s neighboring countries contain refugee.
Such proposals to externalize immigration management and humanitarian protection by creating “buffer zones” or offshore reception centers are not new.
In 2016, the European Union and Turkey signed an agreement in which Ankara agreed to prevent refugees from entering the European Union and take back “all immigrants who do not need international protection” who have entered Greece from Turkey in exchange for funds allocated to Greece. Dealing with the millions of refugees it has taken in, and other benefits. However, this transaction did not allow these immigrants and refugees to find safety and stability in Turkey. Ankara has repeatedly accused Europe of not fulfilling its promises and threatened to send all refugees to Europe if it does not receive further support. As a result, millions of disadvantaged immigrants and asylum seekers find themselves in a state of uncertainty, full of uncertainty about their future.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevrut Cavusoglu has made it clear that after the United States withdraws from Afghanistan, his country is unwilling to agree to a similarly disastrous agreement. “On the issue of immigration in Afghanistan,” he said on September 1, “if [the EU’s] The method will be based on’we give the money, you leave the money there'”.
For many years, the European Union has been supporting the Libyan Coast Guard to enable it to intercept maritime migrants and asylum seekers heading to Europe and bring them back to Libya — with devastating consequences. Immigrants and asylum-seekers stopped by the Coast Guard were taken to detention centers in Libya, where they faced inhuman and degrading conditions and the risk of torture, sexual violence, extortion and forced labor.
As pointed out by Human Rights Watch and many other international non-governmental organizations and activists, the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers in Libyan detention centers violates international law. Although the Libyan authorities are undoubtedly responsible for these violations, the EU continues to adopt a flawed strategy to authorize the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept migrants and asylum seekers and bring them back to Libya, and they are also complicit in these violations.
Europe should not repeat the same mistakes in response to the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan. Many EU member states have been involved in Afghan affairs since 2001, and they have just left the country with the Americans. They are also responsible for the ongoing humanitarian emergency in the country-they cannot wash their hands for the millions of suffering Afghans, saying they are the responsibility of Washington alone.
The EU can quickly and effectively fulfill its moral responsibility to the Afghan people in a variety of ways. One way is to pass the EU Temporary Protection Directive-a special measure passed in 2001 to “provide immediate and temporary protection to displaced persons from non-EU countries and those unable to return to their country of origin.” The asylum system is struggling to cope with the demand created by the massive influx.”
The provisions in the directive are based on solidarity among EU countries and have never been triggered in the past 20 years. By activating these provisions in the face of the Afghan crisis, the EU can show the world that it has not evaded its responsibilities and that its member states are indeed working together to uphold the EU’s self-declared core values: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights. .
Exporting the immigration crisis to a third country and adopting anti-immigration rhetoric may bring rapid political gains to European leaders. However, as has been seen many times recently, this strategy will not pay off in the long run. Attempting to build a “European fortress” will not guarantee the security and prosperity of the EU, but will encourage nationalism and hatred within the EU. In addition, it isolates Europe from the rest of the world.
It is time for Europe to implement a responsible immigration policy in order to resolve its moral responsibility to the people adversely affected by its foreign policy decisions and reflect its core values. The Afghan crisis may be a good opportunity to start building a new European Union that truly cares about the rights of all mankind.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.