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EU leader: It’s time to ‘step up’ on Afghan refugee crisis
refugees

EU leader: It’s time to ‘step up’ on Afghan refugee crisis

29.08.2021
Europe, US also must decide how to support Afghans remaining in the country, EU Commissioner Johansson says
Refugees who fled Afghanistan after the takeover by the Taliban gather in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi on Saturday as they wait to be transferred to another destination
Refugees who fled Afghanistan after the takeover by the Taliban gather in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi on Saturday as they wait to be transferred to another destination
Photo credit: AFP

The European Union’s home affairs chief that countries need to work together urgently to avoid a migration crisis in Afghanistan as she heads to Washington for meetings.

“We need to step up on resettlement” of refugees from Afghanistan, EU justice and home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson said in an interview Thursday before departing for the U.S. She added that Europe and the U.S. also need to figure out how to support Afghans who remain in the country, as well as those who have fled to neighboring countries.

“I don’t think anybody has a real clear answer of what is the practical way to do it right now because the situation on the ground is changing almost hour by hour,” she added, referring to warnings from U.S. and U.K. officials about imminent threats of a possible terrorist attack on the Kabul airport, where evacuation flights are being conducted. 

EU ministers are scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss the Afghan evacuation and refugee situation as they work to avoid the kind of crisis Europe faced with Syrian migrants in 2015.

30,000 Refugees

“This is the first lesson learned: don’t wait until they’re standing at our borders,” Johansson said. “Act as early as possible and also act globally.”

“I’m very happy to have the U.S. back on the scene when it comes to resettlement,” she said. 

Johansson said that EU countries are currently in the process of making their annual pledges for the number of migrants from all countries they plan to accept, suggesting that some may hold spots open for Afghan refugees. 

Afghan refugees arrive at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC, on Friday after being evacuated from Kabul.
Afghan refugees arrive at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC, on Friday after being evacuated from Kabul.
AFP

She said that she hoped EU member states would be able to pledge to accept about 30,000 Afghan refugees, depending on what individual countries propose. She said the United Nations refugee agency has asked the EU to aim for 36,000 spots.

Separately, Johansson said she expects to discuss the growing problem of ransomware and cyberattacks during her U.S. visit, when she plans to meet with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.


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