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On Wednesday 15 September, during her State of the Union speech, Ursula von der Leyen reiterated the EU’s support for the Afghan population. As expected, the words were about solidarity, but the real commitments remained vague. A drop in the ocean compared to the real response that the Afghan political and health situation requires. The general direction that European leaders wish to take is clearly towards keeping the Afghan population at the gates of Europe rather than towards a frank welcome that would honour and respect human rights.

The day after Von der Leyen’s speech, out of the spotlight, a vote on the situation in Afghanistan was on the agenda in the Strasbourg plenary. The final text adopted is yet another example of European irresponsibility in the face of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

It should also be noted that the resolution contained absolutely no reference to the atrocities committed by NATO in Afghanistan. Our involvement in the conflict was erased and minimised.

Some 3.5 million people have been displaced in Afghanistan. Another five million are currently at risk of starvation.

The Left will not stop calling on EU member states to protect at-risk Afghans as soon as possible, providing safe humanitarian corridors and visas, additional resettlement places, quick review of rejected asylum applications, and facilitation of family reunification. We urge the European Commission to make a proposal to the Council to invoke and implement the Temporary Protection Directive 2001/55/EC, which would provide immediate and temporary protection to fleeing Afghans who arrive in the EU.

Instead of watching its back, Europe should hurry and prepare to accommodate those expected to arrive in the immediate and more distant future, according to its obligations under international law and through a European binding mechanism of fair, proportional and mandatory distribution. Europe should also end the principle of responsibility for the first country of entry.

We call on EU member states to not return Afghans to third countries, on Greece to revise its law deeming Turkey a safe third country for Afghan asylum-seekers and, in parallel, to ensure relocation of Afghans from Greece to other EU member states.

Our MEP Mick Wallace (independents 4 Change, Ireland) said during this week’s plenary debate on this issue: “Afghanistan has been occupied for 20 years. We will not learn from our actions in Afghanistan if we do not call a spade a spade: it was a war waged to secure strategic interests. The EU must assume its responsibilities.”

 

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