Afghan Migrant Situation and European Reaction

We often forget that a significant proportion of refugees who now knock on the door of Europe are Afghans. Between January and December 2015, they were 200,000 to seek asylum in one of the EU countries. 6 times more than in 2014. The Afghans are the second largest group to migrate and make an application for asylum in Germany after the Syrians. And we’re not talking, here, the number of Afghans who enter and remain in a European country illegally. At least 3,000 Afghans enter Iran illegally every day. From there, much happening in Turkey, and follows the path of other migrants to Greece and the Balkans to the heart of the EU.

It is important to understand that those who migrate are not only poor Afghans. There are examples showing that the middle class is also desperate enough to flee to Europe. This is why the terrible event of Qais Rahmani, one of those poor refugees in a makeshift boat between Turkey and Greece that quickly sank, killing four infants of Mr. Rahmani. If history is known today, it is because Qais Rahmani was actually a well-known presenter on Afghan television, whose family had a good academic education. He is the representative of a middle class that does not believe it either, the Afghan Renaissance.

Several European countries think they can understand that migrants leave their country for Europe in a fantasy Eldorado, is not the solution through press campaigns in .Afghanistan itself. The Afghan government and the Taliban even call for their part, candidates for migration to abandon their plans.

The rebels have recently reiterated that they sent threatening letters over to Afghans who have worked for the Americans and their allies, and insist on the dangers of illegal migration, thanks to mafia groups. When we went to Afghanistan often enough, we know well that threats do not stop to letters, but also go through the 8MS, telephone, calls, racketeering to finance the rebellion, kidnappings for funding. It seems that the journalist Qais Rahmani and his wife, also a journalist, Sayara Samadi, decided to migrate to Europe, due threats from Afghanistan while they were in Turkey (where the young woman was enrolled in master). So part of Afghan migrants, including the middle class flees threats from Taliban.

On the other hand, the daily violence of the Afghan civil war means that many death threats associated with the Taliban are personal initiatives of members of the rebellion, even mafia or individuals having a quarrel with the potential victim. Anyway, if the Taliban are officially worried about the fate of their fellow citizens who choose migration, but also for practical reasons. Too many Afghan migrants to Europe is to remind Westerners that Afghanistan is still at war, nothing was really resolved despite the work that NATO is supposed to be conducted on site. The Taliban feel even stronger as Washington, Paris and Berlin to Kiev look more or Damascus than to Kabul. If this changes, it could mean more difficulties for them on the battlefield. In short, the Taliban oppose the Afghan migration because it reminds the world their war against the legal regime in Kabul.

The reasons for the concern of the legal government deal with emigration are of course far more healthy. This is the question of the flight of brains essential for reconstruction of Kabul. But the fact that among the migrants, there is skilled, middle-class, it is also a terrible symbol of the failure of good governance and the Afghan reconstruction.

Failure of which the Taliban are not the only ones responsible. Recall that Americans spent $ 110 billion for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Or in 2015, according to a US audit on this effort, billions were lost due mismanagement, corruption, and theft. And following these audits, it is well known that this is not the first time we arrive at such conclusions. If representatives of the middle class become refugees, so this is also because of the endemic corruption that prevents any development, and any hope of improvement for the average Afghan.

So this Afghan migration is a reflection of a widespread failure: that of the West, successive Afghan governments, and of course the Taliban. They all said to fight for the Afghan people, and all have failed.

The flow of refugees, in these circumstances, seems difficult to stop. Yet it is in the interest of Europe to take action to reduce migration flows, to prevent humanitarian tragedies and political and social tensions within the EU. So what can the European countries do to reduce the number of Afghan migrants coming to Europe, beyond press campaigns having very limited impact?

Of course, Afghanistan is thinking in European chancelleries, as a matter of secondary ‘to Syria or Ukraine, If we were caught by surprise by the wave of migrants, and if our leaders do not understand, until recently, it was not a short-term crisis, it is because our diplomats and men I politicians did not take into account a simple fact: the chaos inevitably leads to migration, and they will not necessarily stop to neighboring countries. Europeans head Germans say they are determined to repatriate Afghans from areas considered safe. Berlin has shown its determination by refusing 50% of asylum applications from Afghans. But it is not certain that closeing the door to Germany and the EU is sufficient to discourage Afghans to come. A firm policy to EU entry is only meaningful with a more serious and committed European policy on the Afghan issue. If the French and European politicians want to reduce the number of migrants, so they need to provide assistance to the Afghan state, however imperfect it may be. This aid should nevertheless be associated with no less real effort on the side of Kabul to greater political stability and a real fight against corruption.

On the diplomatic front, Europeans must strongly support the idea of the peace process desired by the Americans, the Chinese and Pakistanis. It has .already derailed the last few months, and recently, the Islamabad- Beijing-Washington trio tries, somehow, revive it. Europeans are secondary actors in Afghanistan. It would be illusory to imagine that we could have an influential diplomatic activity alone. The European Commission, the Foreign Ministry and the embassies of large European countries should coordinate with the three countries cited to support the Kabul-Taliban dialogue ready to negotiate as much as possible, and without reservation.

Finally, in the same way that Turkey is important for the management of migrants from Syria, it is essential that the EU works in depth with the governments in Islamabad and Tehran on Afghan migration issue. Iran like Pakistan had to manage since the early 1980s, between 1 and 3 million Afghans migrating legally or illegally each. Have an extremely intensive cooperation with Iranians and Pakistanis, provide funds and assistance needed to help their governments to take care of an even more important part of Afghans leaving the country, would be a good policy. It is clear that the emergence of a political, economic and security situation in the country, actually to reduce the number of migrants will take time. In the short term, therefore, to prevent the number of Afghan migrants to Europe to increase or to reduce it, one must have the same objectives in Iran and Pakistan as in Turkey. To make these countries attractive for migrants who can make a part of their lives before returning home when conditions improve there.

Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the writer and are not necessarily reflective of IPRI policy.

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